Thebe Neruda Kgositsile (born February 24, 1994), known professionally as Earl Sweatshirt (and the informal nickname "Early Man"), is an American rapper, record producer and songwriter who first came to prominence as a member of the music/skateboarding/artist collective Odd Future.
The son of famed poet and political activist Keorapetse Kgositsile, Earl started rapping in the seventh grade and began releasing music online at the ripe age of 13 under the name Sly Tendencies, with this music already containing the sharp-well-beyond-his-years lyricism he would become known for, as well as prominent influences from MF DOOM.
After corresponding through MySpace with Tyler, the Creator, as Earl was a fan of Tyler's and had caught his attention with his music, Earl joined Odd Future and quickly made a name for himself in the group. His lyrical content was arguably the most vitriolic and gruesome of the bunch when he started, constantly featuring wanton murder, rape, necrophilia and cannibalism. Despite this, his impressive and inventive uses of wordplay, double entendres and multi-syllabic rhyming garnered considerable praise.
Earl managed to squeeze out one mixtape and a handful of collaborations before mysteriously disappearing. Eventually, Complex magazine found him in a retreat school in Samoa (his mother's government job involved her working there for some time). Odd Future refused to comment on the situation, though Tyler expressed worry over fans coming after his mother for sending him there. Earl's mother also refused to allow additional songs featuring Earl to be released. His disappearance prompted the chanting of "free Earl" in concerts and in songs.
In early 2012, Earl arrived back in the United States. He officially made his return on the songs "Home" and "Oldie", and held his return performance at a New York show in March 2012. In an interview, Earl confirmed that he was sent to Samoa but only because he was "doing some bad stuff at the time" that was entirely unrelated to his rapping. Earl's lyrical content changed drastically after his return, trading in his horrorcore elements for dark introspection and even more impressive lyrical skills.
Earl announced his Doris album in late 2012 before dropping the video for the "Chum" single. Another single, "Whoa" (with Tyler on the hook) followed in March of 2013. After much waiting, anticipation, and plenty of delays, his studio debut album Doris was released in August 2013 to critical acclaim, followed up by the near-surprise release of I Dont Like Shit, I Dont Go Outside in 2015. In 2018, he released Some Rap Songs to continued acclaim, with praise for its lo-fi, experimental production and deeply personal lyrics.
- Doris (2013)
- I Dont Like Shit, I Dont Go Outside (2015)
- Some Rap Songs (2018)
- Sick! (2022)
- Earl (Mixtape) (2010)
- Solace (EP) (2015)
- FEET OF CLAY (EP) (2019)
- Arc Words: Keep faith, my nigga throughout Some Rap Songs.
- A non-descript Brodie figure also appears in two of the albums songs.
- Ax-Crazy: Earl's pre-Doris persona easily fell into this, with Earl's lyrics detailing gruesome and senseless acts of violence, often committed on impulse with no rhyme or reason.
- Darker and Edgier: In a rather shocking way, Some Rap Songs is this to all of Earls already-dark previous works, due to Earls Creator Breakdown affecting the albums production, making it an extremely personal experience for those who listen to it.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Department of Redundancy Department: Like its nothin cuz its nothin, biiiitch is part of the refrain to Hive.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In one song, Earl kills a girl because she turns off Eminem's Relapse and puts on The Blueprint 3.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Deconstructed in Luper. As the song goes from an ode to unrequited love to an Obsession Song, the narrator transitions to a Stalker with a Crush whom abducts the target of his obsession and murders her in his basement.
- Establishing Character Moment: Two:
- The first was Earl, which established him as the most brutal and young of the group, and introduced his impeccable wordplay. The music video has more Gorn than any of the groups video output since.
- The second being Chum, upon his return from Samoa shows that hes actually a far more intelligent, introspective person with a lot of flaws and issues but is generally the Only Sane Man, and even more insane wordplay.
- For the Evulz
- Gargle Blaster: In the video for Earl. Cocaine, marijuana, cough syrup and loads of other drugs are blended into a smoothie and consumed. Everyone starts bleeding and dying as a result.
- The Ghost: From March 2010 to February 8th 2012.
- He's Back!: He returned triumphantly from his disappearance with "Home", and has kept up appearances on Chum and Whoa.
- Hurricane of Puns: His lyrical style pretty much boils down to taking this as far as it will possibly go, and then taking it even further. You may need to take notes sometimes.
- Miniscule Rocking: A common element in both his songs and albums. With the exception of Doris, none of his albums or mixtapes are longer than 30 minutes, and many of his songs, particularly on Some Rap Songs and Feet Of Clay, are two minutes or shorter.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Wakeupfaggot, the skit on Earl where his mom (played by Syd tha Kyd) wakes him up, is a pretty funny break from all the hate that bookends it.
- Theres a double-whammy with the last three tracks on Some Rap Songs; Playing Possum is a saddeningly heartwarming song Earl made to dedicate to his parents, Peanut is the lyrical equivalent to Earls lowest psychological point with its growly, distorted and loose production, and Riot! is a calming song that, while dark in meaning, being a dedication to Earls Honorary Uncle Hugh Masekela, who passed away shortly after Earl's father did, is a perfect send-off to such an emotionally-draining album.
- Murder Ballad: Earls are the most gruesome of the bunch. Necrophilia, cannibalism, wanton violence, you got it. He even stabs a woman in the groups Anti-Christmas Song just because shed look nicer in a bag.
- New Sound Album: Every one of his albums could be described as being this to the one before it.
- Only Sane Man: Hes usually this when hes on Loiter Squad.
- Rap Opera: Earl.
- Refuge in Audacity: Couch has Earl and Tyler one-upping themselves in a gross out contest, ending with Tyler coming up with Drown your bitch in a tub of cum and throw a shark in it, then stabbing Earl and setting him on fire.
- Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Earl is a full-on atheist.note He used to use satanic imagery primarily to piss people off; now he makes insanely clever remarks, such as the venison line in "Whoa".
- Stylistic Suck: His more emotionally intense outputs have an established style of mixing and mastering the instrumentals to make them sound more muddy and glitchy to better portray his state of mind.
- The beat of "Grief" has a distinctly low bitrate that helps build its cold, dark atmosphere.
- solace dips into the same blocky textures at points.
- Some Rap Songs had a notable lo-fi element to its sound as well.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: His first official single back from Samoa, "Chum," marks a turning point in his character, but is also the first song he ever released that wasn't horrifying or audacious in any way.
- Teen Genius: Earls lyrical skill has received the most praise from critics.
- Earl once claimed on twitter all of his music released up to that point (minus the stuff on Radical) was written & performed between the ages of 13-15.
- Textless Album Cover: solace, Some Rap Songs, and FEET OF CLAY.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Earl often pauses at the end of a verse, before saying a single swear word.
- Wolverine Publicity: RZA of Wu-Tang Clan provides the hook of Molasses.