Q&A - Earl Sweatshirt
RollingStone India|January 2022
The rapper on growing up in public, becoming a father, and why he scrapped the first draft of his new album
JEFF IHAZA

In 2010, just a few months before the introduction of an app called Instagram, Earl Sweatshirt’s debut music video arrived seemingly out of nowhere to launch careers for the brash iconoclasts in Odd Future. The video for “Earl,” which paired the frenetic energy of a Harmony Korine film with hints of a more mature emotional sensibility, was a key factor in pushing his rap collective into the mainstream — no small feat given that Earl, born Thebe Kgositsile, was only 16 at the time. The attention that followed was instantaneous, as was the online vitriol directed at Earl’s mother after fans discovered that he’d been sent away to a boarding school in Samoa. “People make shit up about you — that was when I realized that,” says the rapper, now 27 and a new father. “I answered interview questions, and people that I never met before in my life were like, ‘Nah, it doesn’t sound like him.’ ” Over Zoom, Earl discussed his latest LP, Sick!, and why he’s looking for a fresh start after a decade in music. “It speaks to the cycle of 10,” he says. “Only so much can happen between one and 10 before the restart, you know what I mean?”

How did you approach this new album? I was very skeptical of myself — but I’m skeptical of me saying it that way, because “skeptical” doesn’t capture exactly what I’m talking about. I had a goal, which was to meet people halfway.

Why was that your goal? Because I wasn’t about to catch myself doing the same shit for too long. You can’t do that. I scrapped a 19track album.

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