The Earl Sweatshirt Saga Generates Internet Memes

Last month, Complex reported that Earl Sweatshirt had been tracked down. Odd Future's 17-year old lyrical mastermind was enrolled at the Coral Reef Academy in Samoa, an "off-shore treatment program for at-risk teenage boys."

A source said Earl had been sent there by his mom because of his "disrespectful music and behavior," then pictures of Earl (whose real name is Thebe Kgositsile) eating ice cream cones surrounded by Polynesian bros, and working on some type of drawing with a heavily tattooed Samoan surfaced.

At last, the missing rapper found. "Free Earl" sentiment grew, and more and more Odd Future fanboys started rocking screen printed Earl tees at OF shows.

But then The New Yorker stepped in, swinging their big investigative dick around until something came out. The result, an 8,000-word piece written by Kelefa Sanneh in the May 23 issue about Earl in which the 17-year old speaks candidly about his situation via e-mail from Coral Reef.

"No, no no no no no no no no no no," he responded when asked about whether or not his stay at Coral Reef is involuntary. He also spoke out against the "Free Earl" movement, asking fans to stop using it because it's lost its meaning.

"Initially, I was really pleased that all these people claimed that they wanted me released because I thought that translated into 'they care.' So time progresses and the fan base gets bigger and the 'Free Earl' chants get louder but now with the 'Free Earl' chants come a barely indirect 'Fuck Earl's Mom' and in the blink of an eye, my worry changes from 'will there still be this hype when I get back,' to 'Oh shit, I just inspired a widespread movement of people who are dedicated to the downfall of my mom."

Earl's father, South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, also spoke with Sanneh about his estranged relationship with his son. "When (Earl) feels that he's got something to share with me, he will," he said when asked if he'd listened to any of Earl's music. "And until then I will not impose myself on him just because the world talks of him."

Earl's mom was also interviewed, though she asked the magazine not to publish her name because she feared his Odd Future fans would hassle her.

"There is a person named Thebe who preexisted Earl. That person ought to be allowed to explore and grow, and it's very hard to do that when there's a whole set of expectations, narratives, and stories that are attached to him."

Of course, the plot thickened just one day after the issue hit newsstands. Odd Future's publicist, Heathcliff Berru, told XXL magazine that he thinks Earl's mom was behind the 17-year olds replies.

"It makes me wonder if that was Earl speaking, or his mother speaking on his behalf. Kelefa never technically had direct communication with Earl. All I know is that doesn't sound like Earl. My only thought is for his safe return."

The saga of Earl Sweatshirt continues.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Victor Gonzalez
Contact: Victor Gonzalez