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The story of Odd Future's Earl Sweatshirt gets another knot

June 20, 2011 |  3:18 pm

Initially, there was the myth of Earl Sweatshirt: The foul-mouthed 16-year-old rap prodigy/Odd Future linchpin was sent from Los Angeles to parts unknown when his mother allegedly heard the profane lyrics on his debut, "Earl."

After his fellow Wolves became rap's biggest sensation, his enduring absence became the biggest hip-hop mystery since Jay-Z was rumored to be in the illuminati. The disappearance was partially solved in April when some Complex Magazine sleuthing revealed him to be at the Coral Reef Academy in Samoa, a military-type boarding school known for its intensely strict rules and regimens.

Though members of his crew initially denied the story's veracity, it was confirmed the following month when Kalefa Sanneh's New Yorker story broke the case of the missing Sweatshirt wide open. Quoting an email exchange between the reporter and the 17-year-old born Thebe Kgositsile, the article reframed the nature of his stint in Samoa. Repudiating himself from the "Free Earl" chants that had became mantra among the group's fiercely devoted fanbase, he allegedly expressed worries that with the slogan came indirect attacks on his mom, and his fears that "I just inspired a widespread movement of people who are dedicated to the downfall of my mom."

The article also asserted that he was in Samoa willingly, a claim that has been thrown into question with Complex's latest bombshell, which features an interview with Tyler Craven, a former Coral Reef peer of Kgositsile's. Refuting the claims that Sweatshirt was there willingly and about how "Earl probably did write what was published, but that it was heavily influenced by therapists at the academy who need to see positive behavior if he wants to graduate," the article leaves things even more ambiguous.

What we know (maybe): the legal age in Samoa is 21, meaning that Sweatshirt could be there for the next three years or not, depending on whether the program deems him ready to graduate. That according to Craven, "everyone there hated everything about their lives and the program." And that Sweashirt allegedly spoke to him about making dis songs about his mother and the program when he gets out. That is to say, if you believe any of it.


Mystery solved: Earl Sweatshirt, his mother, his poet father communicate with the New Yorker

Howling Wolves: Odd Future

Poetry Magazine takes on Odd Future

-- Jeff Weiss

 Photo: A still from Earl Sweatshirt's video for "Earl." Credit: OddFuture.com