Trail of a Missing Rap Wunderkind Points to Samoa

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Complex magazine thinks it's found Earl Sweatshirt, a member of the L.A. rap group Odd Future who's been missing in action for a few months now. Odd Future is one of the most buzzed-about music groups of the year, but Earl hasn't been touring with them or appearing on new songs. Speculation about where Earl might be has turned into an online cottage industry--lots of people think the rapper, who's only 17, might have been shipped off to boarding school or boot camp by a horrified parent. (Listening to Earl's music, which is almost cartoonishly NSFW, it's easy to see why a parent might be horrified.)

Today, though, Complex posted what it calls a "trail of breadcrumbs"--a mishmash of Facebook wall posts, hints in song lyrics, and a photo from a U.S. ambassador's Web site--that it says leads to Earl, who--if Complex is to be believed--has been spending time at Coral Reef Academy, a therapeutic center in Samoa for young men "lost in anger, lost in depression, lost in drugs or alcohol."

Looking closely at the Complex story, it seems like their case may not be quite airtight. They couldn't get anyone from Coral Reef to confirm that Earl (whose real name is Thebe Kgositsile) has actually spent time there. That said, the circumstantial evidence is definitely compelling--that photo from Ambassador David Huebner's Web site, for example, really, really looks like Earl.

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Even if Earl was enrolled at Coral Reef, he may already have finished his time there and returned to the States. We're going to reserve judgment on this one for now. But considering how quickly the blogs have jumped on this story--The Village Voice, Prefix, BlackBook, Pitchfork, and New York have all picked it up--it's clear the world would like to believe Earl has been found. (Meanwhile, we're sure the folks running the Coral Reef Web site are thrilled to have their servers suddenly hammered with traffic today.)

Some members of Odd Future have vigorously contested the Complex story on Twitter, while others seem to be endorsing it. As with anything Odd Future-related, it will probably take some time for the truth to shake out.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.