Sweaty came to kill and he’s still hungry. I’m obviously talking about Earl Sweatshirt, probably one of the world’s most underrated lyricists.
Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, professionally known as rapper Earl Sweatshirt, is arguably one of the most interesting cases to ever reach hip-hop’s doorstep. Earl was first recognized at the age of 15, under the name Sly Tendencies, by upcoming artist, producer, and director Tyler the Creator. At this point Tyler’s empire was still at its foundation stages, but eventually his hip-hop collective Odd Future made its name known. OF gained recognition for their music that tended to flirt with every boundary, putting out depressive tracks, to angry and almost violent audiography.
Earl released his debut album “Earl” at the age of sixteen under the Odd Future label. Although listeners weren’t as numerous as they are now, the audience was shocked by the talent of the young Earl. He boasted an unrivaled vocabulary and a flow that had the ability to draw any ear. His messages had a bipolarity to them that was owned and first put together by Odd Future themselves. Earl spit mercilessly, going between suicidal thoughts to bitter break ups to violent urges that he wrote almost in competition with Tyler.
However, just as quickly as Earl made his claim to power, he suddenly disappeared. Odd Future started up chants screaming “Free Earl,” while fans were scratching their heads trying to figure out the whereabouts of the Early Man. Thebe finally appeared in Samoa in an academy for troubled youth. Apparently, his mother had shipped him off due to Earl’s questionable behavior that continues to remain quite vague. Although Earl was able to get his act together in this two-year hiatus, he missed Odd Future’s rise to the forefront, headlined by Tyler’s “Goblin.”
Earl made his return as abruptly as his departure. At the age of eighteen, he had fans waiting in eager anticipation for new work, along with learning to adjust to OF’s newly found fame. Thebe hit the studio and in August of 2013, “Doris” was released. The album demonstrated Earl’s thoughtfulness and displayed a newly found maturity that hadn’t been present in “Earl.” The new album also removed the violent urges, although it continued the pattern of bipolarity. Listeners bounce between the self-hatred outlined in tracks like “Chum” to the resentful and bitter sound of tracks like “Molasses” and “Burgundy.”
Thebe’s success and popularity skyrocketed, though the mastermind himself was not happy. Earl started popping painkillers and increased his cannabis consumption to keep him kind of happy. He started a downward spiral, that eventually led to Earl being bedridden for three weeks because of medical exhaustion. Following this collapse, Earl went quiet for a while. He continued to tour and make appearances on the Odd Future show “Loiter Squad,” but remained lowkey until late March of 2015, with the release of “I Don’t Like S***, I Don’t Go Outside.” The title, though being explicit, was so accurate it was funny, according to Thebe. The album finds a way to get to an even darker and depressing level that leaves listeners quiet and in an almost meditative state. Barely hitting a full 30 minutes, Earl’s talent is undoubtedly continuing to grow and mature. One might worry about him due to ideas expressed in “Grief,” but Earl is just figuring himself out, and admits that this is his “most honest release.” Earl also released a ten-minute compilation named “Solace,” allegedly dedicated to the turbulent relationship with his mother. “Solace” leaves listeners in a state of appreciative euphoria, so beware.
Earl’s genius is still waiting to be explored, as he isn’t even close to his peak yet. Watch out for Sweaty.