Why Hasn’t Anyone Freed Earl?


Where’s Earl Sweatshirt? Arguably the best rapper in Odd Future, he has been absent essentially since most people began paying attention. It was the combination horror movie puke video and lyrics of his song and video for “Earl” that first drew many people to Odd Future, Earl’s casual nastiness. Slip capsules in a glass, you dizzee rascal/ Party staff baffled, asking where her ass go/ In my room, redefining the meaning of black holes/ Go on, suck it up, but hurry, I got nuts to bust/ And butts to fuck and ups to chuck and sluts to fucking uppercut/ It’s OF buttercup, go ahead, fuck with us/ Without a doubt, a surefire way to get your mother fucked/ Ask her for a couple bucks, shove a trumpet up her butt. He is pretty gross, funny, quick, nimble and looks like he is 11. Really, he was 16 or so, baby face unfaded because basically he’s a baby. And if he’s that good when he’s 16, think of how good he’ll be when he’s 18 or 20 or 22. All those years ahead of him and still he’ll be a brand new adult. But who knows if we’ll ever get to hear or see anything new from Earl because, as Tyler the Creator and the rest of Odd Future have put it, he’s “gone.”

The most morbid thought about Earl is that he is dead. “Gone” is a dramatic word fit for a Western, at worst his vanishing conjures images of forced disappearance. But death is something that can come out in the open. Were Earl dead, the rest of Odd Future might mourn more openly. Plus, it would suck if Earl is dead, so let’s set that aside as a non-possibility.

We’ve heard rumors of boot camp and private schools, juvenile delinquency programs, things resembling hell for bad kids. This seems plausible, though the blackout from his end, regardless of how deep he’s buried, also seems unlikely. This is the age of satellite phones and Jeopardy robots. At the very least, can’t he send a letter to Tyler to post on Golf Wang? Surely friendship and postage haven’t been banned. But he is a teenager and it is certainly possible he has been heavily banished by displeased parents, fiendish international attention no match for a Tiger Mom.

Earl’s counterpart in Odd Future, Tyler, the Creator, recently signed a one album deal with XL Records, home to the aforementioned, word-played Dizzee Rascal, MIA, Adele, The XX, Vampire Weekend and a whole host of very popular, atypically well-selling artists. MellowHype, duo of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, signed to Fat Possum, home of The Walkmen and Wavves. They were on television, on Funny or Die. Kanye shouted them out. This is real. Separate from business booming, however, Earl hasn’t made any new raps in a long time. He is too young to be JD Salinger and retreat to the woods. Even Salinger, ultimate recluse, left more than some short stories. From Earl we’ve got an EP, some guest appearances and a bunch of YouTubes and photos with a newly earned sad patina. And, sure, there are other rappers in the world, just like there were other authors. But Holden Caulfield changed a bunch of kids lives, continues to, and “Earl” can and will do the same. Why stop now?

Recently, after 37 years, the Village Voice laid off professional muckraker/investigative journalist Wayne Barrett. He’s working with The Nation now, supposedly, but maybe he’s got some free time and needs a project: Freeing Earl Sweatshirt. And if not him, surely some enterprising LA Times intern who is bored of surfing Tumblr wants to stretch his shoe-leather. But if no one takes it upon themselves to free Earl, what will soon is legal age, when Earl the 18-year-old, if he’s indeed on ambiguous lock down, becomes old enough to free himself. But who wants to wait that long?

POSTED March 3, 2011 1:08PM IN MUSIC NEWS Comments (25) TAGS: , ,




  1. I thought he said “ups to chuck.”

  2. Matthew Schnipper says:

    He does! Fixed it, thanks.

  3. riley says:

    this is something i think about regularly. what kind of punishment is he going through where his mom doesn’t see that all of his friend’s are getting record deals? fader, you should solve the mystery! you would seriously win a pulitzer.

  4. 45% says:

    i often wonder too…..my honest guess is he is in a detention program….arent there any kids outside of the OF movement who went to school with him willing to sell the earl story for a couple bucks?

  5. Harharharh says:

    OF is a Banksy project. Earl is just some actor they got to do some Youtube videos and pose for pics.

  6. whereisearl says:

    Tomorrow 6 PM EST information about earls whereabouts will be leaked

  7. Not Required says:

    Ups to shut, bros. Ups to shut.

  8. purehatred says:

    he’s grounded

  9. chi says:

    wow i’ve honestly been waiting for someone to address this issue. I want to know where this dude is.

  10. smart guy says:

    i still think he says “ups to shut”, not “ups to chuck”
    like, shut the fuck up bitch!

  11. lookin4earl says:

    Hey maybe he’s sick or something and OF doesn’t want anyone to know.

  12. @smart guy youre really not all that smart for saying something stupid like that…….hoe

  13. Suckafuck says:

    This bugs the shit out of me. Easily the best rapper in OF. Drops Earl, which has to be one of the better mixtapes. Then THAT video. Then gone. Maybe he fell out with the homies and doesn’t want to be a part anymore?. But then that makes no sense. He’s like that bitch who bailed on Destiny’s child real early, but he’s actually rad and they will actually be worse off without him. I saw Tyler write EARLS HOME on twitter a few months back and flipped out, but then nothing came of it. You guys should get on the case hard. It’s fucking 2011, we have the Internet. We can solve this shit.
    Find Thebe.

  14. boo says:

    His Mother Herd His Tracks and banned him from hanging with OF

  15. lookin4earl says:

    You think that his mom would really stop him from being famous seems a little too much me. I don’t know though and even if he was he could find some way to reach the outside world. I think he doesn’t want anyone to know where he is at that’s why I think that he might be sick or something. Then again you wouldn’t want anyone to know your mom made you go to boarding school when you say things like he does.

  16. Jsmoke says:

    Come on fader. surely you have the power to find out whats going on
    and if you do yr gunna be heros

  17. No Name says:

    Tyler killed Earl..don’t ask how i know this. Someone needs to stand up and confront him about this before worst things happen to innocent people.

  18. doctor pong says:

    After all the hype and what not, you have have to be kidding? Seriously, why didn’t you (fader–a bunch of cash) get to the bottom of it? I got until august till my PHD starts. I am starting to think that I could track this cute little complicated siuation down in a month or two and sell my “story” to the new york times. It’s depressing how much money is made off of “free earl.” God damn all the people interviewing odd future that ask the question as if it’s a novelty…where’s earl?…like they don’t already have their quote. Seriously, his story deserves to be told. His talent deserves it, and quite frankly, it’s tyler (and odd future etc.) who is responsible for telling it. Stop being so effasive. The whole thing seems like at best, a scam and at worst, a rape of earl’s talent.

  19. PANDA says:

    Maybe we should all mind our business like Tyler keeps telling everyone to… We aren’t his family and we don’t “miss him”, we “miss his music”, as Tyler has said plenty of times in interviews/on Formspring before.

  20. Earl Had to Die says:

    I certainly like Odd Future, but the novelty of “Free Earl” is starting to wear off. I imagine that everyone at Fader knows the real Earl story and understands Odd Future, but for those that are too lazy to read their tweets, Earl’s mother was (understandably) bothered by what her underage son was rapping about and the videos he was in. In order to take him out of the Odd Future situation she has relocated him, placed him in a private school, and forbidden him to associate with the group, and as he does not have legal authority at his age, he has been forbidden to appear on any future releases until he reaches the age of 18, which is a little less than a year from now.

    He has remained in contact with the rest of OFWGKTA, but so long as he can’t release any new material for profit and his mother has legal custody over him, there really isn’t anything he can do. Again, I suspect that everyone is fully aware of where Earl is, and that it is merely a ploy for attention and simply buy time to keep him in the spotlight until he returns to the group. Also, while we are on the topic, everyone has to admit that Odd Future, while fun and great artists are in no way underground and have no street cred (see the recent “BOB beef”). They are simply disgruntled upper-middle class black youth, who despite their great talents and ambitions have always had connections to the industry and have been flirting with the labels for over a year.

    Finally, Fuck Steve Harvey, Free Earl and Kill People, Burn Shit and Fuck School.

  21. Spetalsk says:

    @Earl Had To Die

    Bad fucking flirting if all they got was a one record deal with XL Records for Goblin and a re-release of Blacknedwhite for Fat Possum Records. Syd and Taco has a “upper-middle class” family but other then that you don’t know what the fuck your talking about. Both Earl and Tyler have lived in homes with only a single-mother to support them.

  22. Koncious says:

    I believe the whole ‘Free Earl’ is just a smart marketing ploy by the creative team of Odd Future. I’m willing to bet that Earl has been working on his album and it will be titled ‘Free Earl.’ Like the article suggest, this is the age of internet and if Earl really wanted to communicate, he would. Can’t wait for the new music…I like to call it “Punk Rap”….like punk rock but for the hip hop age. The new rap artist are using a different marketing strategy to hit the masses with free music, then to sell their ‘gems’ once the catch on such as Jay Electronica, Lil’ B, and now Odd Future. This makes the music more interactive (you have to find it) and these artist happen to be talented.

  23. tony says:

    Why doesn’t anyone just go to earls house and ask his mom.

  24. Spetalsk says:

    Yeah this is the age of the internet so if Earl still where in LA we would know. If somebody saw him skating they can just take a picture and tweet that shit. And I don’t think is at home hiding and making a record until 2012. The dude is at a boarding school, and he talks to the Odd Future, we know that. Tyler has said it(eventhough you can’t always trust Tyler) … Frank Oceans has talked to him according to his twitter.
    /Spetalsk… section187.tumblr.com

    Yeah cheap-ass-trick

  25. fuck earl free steve harvey says:

    @Earl Had To Die BOB doesn’t have any street cred either, since when was playing acoustic guitar and collabing with haley williams gangsta?