Author: Duke Denham
Header Photo Courtesy of Pitchfork and Lindsay Ellary
Out of the many artist that I’m looking forward to seeing this quarter, none has me quite as excited as Earl Sweatshirt. Born Thebe Kgositsile, Earl is a Los Angeles based rapper known for his association with Odd Future back in the early 2010’s and his boundary pushing Hip Hop music. He’s touring for his latest album Some Rap Songs and will be stopping by Showbox SoDo this Sunday.
Earl Sweatshirt’s backstory is somewhat of an anomaly. After releasing his debut mixtape Earl in 2010, his mother sent him away to Samoa for his insubordinate nature. In his absence, Odd Future, the hip hop collective he had joined prior to his departure, suddenly exploded in popularity on the internet and gained a cult following. Projects like Thebe’s mixtape contributed significantly to the overnight success, as fans were drawn to the teenage angst and provocative fictional stories of misogyny, mutilation, and violence that defined the project and early OF as a whole. His absence left room for fans to fantasize and idolize about who this mysterious, coarse rapper was. Earl left America as a relatively unknown rapper but returned as an online sensation whose teenage decisions formed people’s perceptions of him.
Subsequent releases have seen Thebe push against the narrative that was initially created around him. On his debut album Doris, Earl replaced the youthful, raw punch of Earl with a monotonous, gloomy delivery and mature confessions about his well-being and his troubling relationship with his father. His second album I Don’t Like S***, I Don’t Go Outside, is one of Earl’s most isolated and darkest releases featuring more experimental, murky production while still maintaining the straightforward nature of Doris.
However, Thebe’s entire career seemed to culminate towards his latest album, last year’s Some Rap Songs. After three years of radio silence, the project served as an update on the extremely turbulent past few years of his life. Since the release of I Don’t Like S***, Earl has toiled through issues with drug abuse, depression, and the death of his father among other problems. These topics appeared in the form of fifteen short but tightly-assembled songs. Earl wasn’t afraid to utilize wonky samples, unorthodox flows, or nebulous song structures, even if it meant straying away from Hip-Hop norms. He was much more focused on creating an authentic, brutally honest, and emotionally potent picture of his current state, resulting in his boldest artistic statement yet.
I’m looking forward to seeing Earl Sweatshirt use his rap prowess to deliver a show that heightens the candid perspectives and complex feelings present in his songs. Those looking for more of straightforward trap rap set will probably find something to like in Na-kel Smith’s opening set. On the other hand, singer Liv.e will be putting on a smooth jazz and neo-soul opening set. You can catch all of these acts at Showbox SoDo this Sunday (April 14th). Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets can be found here.
DUKE DENHAM | I Don’t Care | KXSU Music Reporter