Earl Sweatshirt, arguably the most talented member of the L.A. rap group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, has been missing for a year--a year in which Odd Future became one of the most talked-about musical acts in the country. No one knew where Earl was; rumors swirled that he'd been sidelined by his mother, who maybe didn't want her 17-year-old son catapulted to nationwide fame on the basis of surreally violent raps about rape and murder. Chants of "Free Earl" became commonplace at Odd Future shows.
Last month, Complex magazine announced it had found Earl at a therapeutic boarding school in Samoa. Complex wasn't able to confirm this, but all the evidence was certainly suggestive. Now, writing in The New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh has confirmed that Earl's in Samoa--and that he'd prefer it if the whole "Free Earl" movement didn't even exist.
Sanneh's piece isn't available for free online, but it's in this week's print edition, and it's got some great information. We learn that Earl--born Thebe Kgositsile--is the son of Keorapetse Kgositsile, an influential South African poet who was named Poet Laureate of the country in 2006. (You can see the resemblance between father and son.) We learn that Thebe's middle name is Neruda--after the Chilean poet. We find out that Keorapetse's friend, the poet Sterling Plumpp, wrote a poem for Earl when he was just a baby--"Poet: For Thebe Neruda"--that made it into the 1996 edition of The Best American Poetry.