Featured photo by Joseph Baura
Born in Chicago and raised in Los Angeles, 24-year old Thebe Kgositsile, known by his artistic persona as Earl Sweatshirt, had recently announced that he left Columbia Records. The record company had been responsible for promoting his three previous albums, Doris in 2013, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside in 2015, and Some Rap Songs in 2018.
At this point in time, Earl Sweatshirt is a well-respected lyricist in the world of Hip-Hop. His ability to display literary excellence in his lyrics that articulated the voice of a hedonistic and morally corrupt soul turned the heads of old listeners and young ears.
He was a part of an L.A. Alternative Hip-Hop collective called Odd Future back in 2010. Between the years 2010 and 2016, he was out touring with his boisterous group members, skating in abandoned parks and escaping the herds of fanatic worshippers.
Odd Future’s prime years involved the release of Doris. The album was an exceptionally well-crafted project that included the popular sounds of fellow musicians, including Rap artist Tyler, The Creator, Jazz group BadBadNotGood, and R&B artist Frank Ocean.
What helped Doris, as well as Kgositsile’s credibility, resonate with the adolescent youth was his thematic confessions of his depression and consistent drug use.
While Doris was commercially appropriate with its popular, polished production, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside ventured away from the commerciality of Doris.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside allowed Kgositsile to embark into the dark crevices of his mind. It was his most confrontational portrait yet, articulating thoughts about his heavy drug use, worsening depression, and his dysfunctional relationship with his strict mother and absent father. He was 21 by the time of the album’s release.
Some Rap Songs, released just back in November, sparked an immense amount of excitement and fervor among fans. The album managed to receive critical acclaim from music critics, as well as respect and awe-inspired speculations from older and newer listeners.
Looking back at the three albums, they seem to now showcase the amount of knowledge and wisdom Kgositsile was accruing through his process of growing up. During his time of high stake national wandering and low-brow comedic appearances with his crew, he put on a semblance of a young and energetic adolescent over the young, insightful literate.
Doris allowed him to display his proliferate ability. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside used his ability to express his grievances with his absent father, loss of friends, and his turbulent relationship with his mother. Some Rap Songs is the first sign of his voyage into adulthood.
In Some Rap Songs, he displays much more confidence in his wisdom than he did in his previous two projects. An excerpt from one of his songs entitled Red Water exemplifies his confidence.
The line, “I know I’m a king. Stork on my shoulder, I was sinking,” is what he repeats in the song. He wants the avid listener to know that he is well aware of his ability his poetic father left him and that he plans to use it for good use in the future.
In Some Rap Songs, he speaks about his current mindset. He is still prone to spending more than he makes, as well as being a victim of his depressive episodes. The abstract Jazz-influenced beats inspire his stories to unfold for the listener. The production can, at times, be heart-harming, eerie, or calming. The various types of beats here allow the right stories to be told and the right emotions to be exposed.
Thebe Kgositsile has still a career ahead of him but has already amassed a cult following willing to listen to him speak. At his young age, that is a feat that many musicians could not have reached. As Kgositsile continues to grow, so will his mindset and confidence. His mother even clarified his growth, stating her son as a “cultural worker and a student of life.”