In a back-and-forth discussion, Earl Sweatshirt interviewed Mike Tyson for Humanity Magazine. During the conversation, the Odd Future rapper introduces himself as a 20-year old kid from Los Angeles who is in the same place of success that Tyson was at his age.
The boxer asks the rapper about his music career and Sweatshirt goes on to explain how he became a part of Odd Future. He compares their rise in popularity to that of punk music because they are both underground and don’t utilize radio.
“We like developed on our own, like self-sustaining like fan base that was separate,” Sweatshirt says. “So when I was like 14, I was getting better at rapping, like running around L.A., trying to find like people to do music with. And I linked up with this dude Tyler. And he had this whole thing going on already. We started making music, and it was like, it was idiot music, but it was really, I think, what we had in hindsight, what attracted so many people to it was potential. Like we weren’t necessarily talking about anything, but the way that the music was, it was like sophisticated in a sense for our age.
“They got attached,” he continues, “because in the same way that that punk expressed like, the angst of being a teenager so well, a lot of our music and early energy had a lot of those elements. You know, that teens really attach to, you know what I mean – just illogical … passionate unaimed anger.”
He explains his frustration when Odd Future started to get attention but his mother sent him away to school in Samoa.
“So I get plucked out,” he says. “It blows up while I’m gone. The whole time that I was gone, for the first year, I went to hell. It was the worst. Because I wasn’t involved.”
Tyson and Sweatshirt agree upon the importance of being reclusive because this piques people’s interest. Sweatshirt uses Andre 3000 as his example of how to make a small quantity of high quality work.
Both Tyson and Sweatshirt reflect on what it means to grow up and understand life.
“I was talking to someone yesterday,” the rapper says, “and I said the mark of me being an adult was when I got to the point where I realized how little I knew.”
“Oh, man,” the boxer responds. “I’m humbled with that every moment of my life. I think I know a lot, but I don’t know anything.”
Tyson explains to Sweatshirt that he didn’t know his purpose at the rapper’s age. He has just recently figured out how to be a man.
“I realized everything I did in the past prevented me from being the person that I wanted to be,” he says, “so I don’t do what I did in the past anymore. But it took me to be what, 45, 47, 48 to really get it, so it’s not like I’m some genius. I learned from experience. No one told me to follow anyone else’s example. I had to feel the stove to realize it was hot.”
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