Earl Sweatshirt Is Finding This Fame Thing Kind of OddMarch 21st, 2012
By Calvin Stovall
In June 2010, Earl Sweatshirt left America as a 15-year-old underground rap prodigy. Earlier this year, he returned as a cult icon thanks to his childhood friends, Odd Future, who turned their Internet success into mainstream stardom while he was gone.
Earlier this week, Earl gave his first interview since returning from Samoan exile and cleared up his strange story on the record. Among other things, he told Hot 97 radio personality Peter Rosenberg that he was sent to Samoa’s Alternative Intervention school not because his mom disapproved of his music, but because he wouldn’t stop doing hoodrat stuff with his OF friends. But the most insightful parts of the interview came when Rosenberg asked him to reflect on the lifestyle he returned to.
Earl doesn’t appear to be afraid of the attention — he is cool, calm and collected throughout the interview. But fame obviously makes him uncomfortable. Not that he couldn’t handle it, he just doesn’t seem interested in it. His biggest gripe about being a rap star is that he can’t return to OF’s former hangouts on Fairfax to skate without being mobbed.
As he, Tyler and Taco complain about being bothered for pictures, it’s hard not to remember Eminem’s “I Am” or Ludacris’s “Get Back.” While rappers b—-ing about their loss of privacy is nothing new, Odd Future’s seems unique in a day and age when people seem willing to do just about anything for fame. Like Dave Chappelle and Lauryn Hill, Earl seems to be an introverted genius that would rather be left alone to create his art than deal with the trappings of success.
It makes one wonder how closely he will stick with his crew, most of whom are completely comfortable in the spotlight, even if they don’t do anything (Taco, Jasper). Wolves may be more comfortable in packs, but would anyone be surprised if Earl pulled a Chappelle and walked away from the spotlight completely?
Thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, yet. For now, Earl is smoothing into his new lifestyle. Taking advantage of the perks of his new profile (Santigold collabs, performances at Hammerstein Ballroom) will be easy for now, but if he grows into the MC that everyone expects him to be, he will be thrown into a level of fame that would drive even someone who loves the spotlight to take an international sabbatical without mom having to make him.