Thebe Neruda Kgositsile (born February 24, 1994), better known by his stage name Earl Sweatshirt, is an American rapper and record producer from Los Angeles, California. Kgositsile was originally known by the moniker Sly Tendencies when he started rapping, but soon changed his name when Tyler, the Creator invited him to join his Alternative hip hop collective Odd Future in late 2009.
He gained recognition and critical praise for his debut mixtape, entitled Earl, which released in March 2010 when he was just 16 years old. Shortly after its release, his mother sent him to a boarding school in Samoa for at-risk teens for a year and a half. He was unable to record music during his tenure there, but returned to Los Angeles in February 2012, just before his eighteenth birthday. Kgositsile rejoined Odd Future and started producing new music, releasing his debut studio album Doris in August 2013.
second album, I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt followed in March 2015, and his third, Some Rap Songs, released in November 2018. His projects have all received widespread critical praise. He is currently signed to Columbia Records as well as his independent label Tan Cressida.
Thebe Neruda Kgositsile was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Cheryl Harris, a law professor at University of California, Los Angeles, and Keorapetse Kgositsile, a South African poet and political activist. Harris and Kgositsile separated when Thebe was eight years old. After a short illness, Keorapetse, age 79, died on January 3, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He attended the UCLA Lab School in Los Angeles and New Roads High School and Middle School in Santa Monica.
Kgositsile first started rapping in the 8th grade. In 2008, under the name Sly Tendencies, he posted tracks for his mixtape, Kitchen Cutlery, via MySpace. He and two of his friends, Loofy and Jw Mijo, formed a rap trio called The Backpackerz. They intended to release a mixtape titled World Playground but disbanded sometime in 2009.
In 2009, Tyler, the Creator discovered Sly Tendencies via his MySpace account after he reached out to Tyler to tell him he was a fan of his work. Sly later changed his pseudonym to Earl Sweatshirt and eventually joined Tyler's rap group Odd Future. Kgositsile and Odd Future have been featured in mainstream magazines such as Spin, Billboard and The Fader.
His debut mixtape, Earl, was self-released March 31, 2010 as a free digital download on the Odd Future website. Most of the mixtape was produced by Tyler, the Creator. Earl was named the 24th-best album of 2010 by Complex.
Despite positive reactions from both critics and fans, various sources indicated that Kgositsile had stopped making music with Odd Future. Posts from Tyler, the Creator's Twitter and Formspring accounts seemed to indicate that Kgositsile's mother would not grant permission to release any of her son's music; although after his return, Kgositsile later expressed in an interview that his mother sent him to Samoa due to getting into trouble with friends. Kgositsile attended Coral Reef Academy, a therapeutic retreat school for at-risk boys, located outside of the Samoan capital of Apia. At Coral Reef Academy, Kgositsile worked to earn back privileges, and the opportunity to return home. At the beginning of his enrollment, he was unable to use the bathroom unsupervised While there, he read Manning Marable's biography on Malcolm X and Richard Fariña’s counterculture fiction. He wrote rhymes, including most of his verse on "Oldie," his only contribution to The OF Tape Vol. 2. Kgositsile was brought back from Samoa by Leila Steinberg, the first manager of Tupac Shakur, who today still manages his career.
On December 1, 2011, three formerly unreleased songs by Kgositsile were released through the OddFutureTalk Odd Future Unreleased mixtape. In December 2011, Sweatshirt was announced as a potential candidate for XXL's 2012 Freshmen List.
On February 8, 2012, rumors spread around the internet that Kgositsile had returned to the U.S. when a video of him surfaced on YouTube with a preview of a new song saying if viewers wanted "the full thing" they would have to give him 50,000 followers on Twitter. He also later confirmed on his new Twitter account that he had returned to his home in Los Angeles.
Kgositsile appeared on the song "Oldie" from Odd Future's debut album The OF Tape Vol. 2. This was Earl's return to official Odd Future releases and his first appearance on an Odd Future Records release. On March 20, a video released on the official Odd Future YouTube page featured Kgositsile in a cypher-style music video rapping along to his verse from "Oldie" with the other members of the crew. That same day, Kgositsile performed with the group at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on March 20, 2012. On April 9, 2012, rapper Casey Veggies released a mixtape titled Customized Greatly 3 that included a song featuring Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator, Domo Genesis, and Hodgy Beats titled "PNCINTLOFWGKTA." During that month Kgositsile signed on to create his own record label imprint, Tan Cressida, to be distributed through Columbia Records. He turned down several other larger offers due to his priority of remaining close to Odd Future.
Earl Sweatshirt was featured on the track "Super Rich Kids" from Frank Ocean's debut album, channel ORANGE released digitally July 10, 2012. On July 16, Domo Genesis & The Alchemist released the first official single, "Elimination Chamber", from their collaboration album No Idols, which featured Earl, Vince Staples, and Action Bronson. He was also later featured on the album again on the tracks "Daily News" (also featuring SpaceGhostPurrp & Action Bronson) & "Gamebreaker". On July 23, 2012, Flying Lotus released a song titled "Between Friends" on the Adult Swim Single series which features Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy. Earl Sweatshirt was also featured on MellowHype's second and final studio album, Numbers on the track "P2".
On November 2, Kgositsile released his first solo single since his return from Samoa, titled "Chum". On November 12, he announced in a tweet that his debut studio album will be titled Gnossos but later decided against the title. On December 4, Kgositsile announced that the album will instead be called Doris. That same day the music video for track 6 on Doris, "Chum" was posted on YouTube. Doris was reported early on to feature vocals and/or production from Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, Ommas Keith, Thundercat, Domo Genesis, Mac Miller, the Neptunes, Christian Rich, Vince Staples, BadBadNotGood, Pharrell Williams, Samiyam, The Alchemist, Casey Veggies, The Internet and RZA. On March 6, 2013, while performing with Flying Lotus and Mac Miller, Earl premiered three new songs off Doris: "Burgundy" produced by Pharrell Williams, "Hive" featuring Casey Veggies & Vince Staples and "Guild" featuring Mac Miller. Kgositsile also confirmed the next single to be titled "Whoa" featuring Tyler, the Creator. The song was released to iTunes on March 12, 2013, along with the music video being released, which was directed by Tyler.
Doris was released on August 20, 2013, under Tan Cressida and Columbia Records. Doris featured guest appearances from Odd Future members Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator, along with Vince Staples, RZA, Casey Veggies and Mac Miller. Production was primarily handled by Kgositsile under the pseudonym randomblackdude and production duo Christian Rich. Additional production was provided by Matt Martians, The Neptunes, RZA, Samiyam, BadBadNotGood, Frank Ocean, and Tyler, the Creator. In September 2013, Complex named Kgositsile the tenth best producer in hip hop. Upon its release, Doris was met with universal critical acclaim from music critics, including perfect scores by The Guardian and Los Angeles Times, which praised Kgositsile's rhyme schemes and lyrics along with the gritty underground production. The album also fared well commercially debuting at number five on the US Billboard 200 and number one on US Top Rap Albums chart.
On November 12, 2012, Kgositsile announced that he had begun working on his third studio project. The forthcoming album was to be named Gnossos, citing inspiration from Richard Fariña’s 1966 cult-classic novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. Kgositsile ultimately decided to take the album in another direction under the name I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt. On October 10, 2014, Kgositsile confirmed that he had completed the follow-up album to Doris. On November 5, 2014, he released a new song entitled "45" produced by The Alchemist. On February 14, 2015 Earl debuted a new song titled "Quest/Power" via SoundCloud. Kgositsile continued to perform unreleased tracks since early 2015, such as "Swamp Vermin", "Vultures", "I Be Outside", "Hell", and "Flowers on the Grave".
On January 5, 2015, Kgositsile released a song titled silenceDArapgame with professional skateboarder Nakel Smith under the moniker Hog Slaughta Boyz.
On March 16, 2015, The pre-order for Kgositsile's second studio album, titled: I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt appeared on the iTunes Store, without prior announcement. On March 17, 2015, Kgositsile released a music video, for the song "Grief".
The full album was released on March 22, 2015, but only the digital version; the physical version was released later on April 14, 2015. A later music video for the song "Off Top" was released on August 7, 2015. Kgositsile stated in an interview with NPR that his record label gave him no notice they would release the album. He says he considers this his first album because he feels he can "back up everything, the good and the bad".
On April 28, 2015, a ten-minute track named "Solace" was released via YouTube, and has gained much attention; gaining more than one-hundred thousand views on YouTube in 24 hours. He stated to NPR that he was making an album called "Solace" inspired by his mother, however many believe it is instead an extended play. The project has not been addressed fully. It was widely debated if Kgositsile left Odd Future or not. It seems he has confirmed he has left through his Twitter on May 28, 2015 by saying "No sympathy for male virgins who're in their feelings about Tyler pointing out and solidifying the obvious" after Tyler, the Creator tweeted what everyone thought was the disbandment of Odd Future, although Tyler denies an Odd Future disbandment. Earl did not appear at Camp Flog Gnaw 2015 on November 14, 2015. Many speculated that Tyler, the Creator did not invite Earl to perform at the Carnival because of a feud or conflict between the two. However, Tyler tweeted the day after the carnival "Thebe and I are fine by the way".
On January 25, 2016, Kgositsile released three new tracks on SoundCloud, "Wind in My Sails", produced by The Alchemist, and "Bary" and "Skrt Skrt", produced under his alias 'randomblackdude'. "Wind in My Sails" contains samples from Captain Murphy's song "Children of the Atom" and vocal samples from Gene McDaniels's song "The Parasite (For Buffy)". "Bary" contains vocal samples from Kanye West's song "Barry Bonds". "Skrt Skrt" contains vocal samples from 21 Savage's song "Skrrt Skrrt". On March 4, 2016, Kgositsile was featured on Samiyam's 4th album, Animals Have Feelings. The song, "Mirror", was originally meant for I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt. According to Kgositsile, the song wasn't included since "the tracklist got fucked up". The music video for "Mirror" was released on June 21, 2016. On August 1, 2016, a instrumental track called "Pelicula" was posted on Apple Music. On August 17, 2016, Kgositsile was featured on Adult Swim Singles Program 2016 on the track "Balance", produced by Knxwledge. On September 4, a new Kgositsile track called "Death Whistles" was released on Earl's and Knxwledge's livestream show on Red Bull Music Academy, produced by King Krule.
On September 21, 2018, frequent collaborator The Alchemist released the track listing to his EP Bread, which contains the track "E. Coli" featuring Earl Sweatshirt. On November 2, 2018, frequent collaborator Vince Staples released his album FM! featuring the track "New earlsweatshirt - Interlude" containing a 20-second verse from the rapper. Vince later said "Earl is back" and that "his album coming soon" on his Beats 1 show 'Ramona Radio'.
On November 7, 2018, Kgositsile teased the release of new music on social media in a video clip captioned, "NOWHERE2GO TOMORROW MORNING TAP IN." The single "Nowhere2go" was released on November 8, 2018 and received positive reception. On November 20, 2018, Kgositsile released the single "The Mint" and announced his third studio album, Some Rap Songs which he slated for a November 30, 2018 release. According to Kgositsile, Some Rap Songs was intended to be themed around his father's death.
On November 30, 2018, Kgositsile released his third studio album, Some Rap Songs.
Kgositsile has been called a "hip-hop prodigy" and in 2011 was branded as "the most exciting rapper to emerge in years, a virtuoso who was just starting to figure out what he could do with words."
Kgositsile has stated that he is influenced by MF Doom, RZA, Radiohead, James Pants, Jay-Z, Cam’ron, and Eminem.
Earl's father, Keorapetse Kgositsile, was a South African poet and political activist who died on 3 January 2018 at 79. Kgositsile was often mentioned in Sweatshirt's music and was called a "complicated figure" by Pitchfork due to be presented as a figure that was often absent in Sweatshirt's life due to Kgositsile living in South Africa while Sweatshirt lived in Los Angeles, California. Speaking on his own relationship with Kgositile, Sweatshirt said "“Me and my dad had a relationship that’s not uncommon for people to have with their fathers, which is a non-perfect one, talking to him is symbolic and non-symbolic, but it’s literally closure for my childhood. Not getting to have that moment left me to figure out a lot with my damn self."
Sweatshirt currently lives in Hollywood, California. Sweatshirt lived in Samoa for a year after his mother found out about his drug habits, sending him to a reform boarding school. The time in Samoa led to Sweatshirt getting sober though eventually he relapsed upon returning to the United States and caught Pneumonia whilst on tour. Sweatshirt attributes his time with his collective Odd Future, who were similar ages to him and leaving a long-term relationship, to his drug abuse, saying he was often smoking weed and drinking lean before quitting as he reached adulthood.
• Doris (2013)
• I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt (2015)
• Some Rap Songs (2018)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Earl Sweatshirt in the news
|Songs by Earl Sweatshirt|