Concerts

Earl Sweatshirt Is Hip-Hop's Most Interesting Rapper

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Only 20 years old, his life story already unfolds like an historic drama, and his skills as a wordsmith go arguably unmatched. He's coming to the stage at Revolution Live Saturday, May 10, and here are just a few reasons we think Earl Sweatshirt may be the most interesting rapper you can be blessed to witness.

"Because Daddy Was a Poet, Right?"

Earl Sweatshirt was born Thebe Neruda Kgositsile in February 1994. His mother is a law professor at the University of California, and his father is famously South African poet and political activist Keorapetse Kgositsile. Though Sweatshirt and his father aren't necessarily estranged, the poet did leave his mother when the rapper was only 6. His father's absence regularly makes its way into his rhymes, a rather uniting factor in the Odd Future world, and so does the pressure of his father's fame. "And when them expectations raise in me 'cause daddy was a poet, right?" Earl raps on "Burgundy," the second track on his latest EP, Doris. It's certainly not easy growing in the shadow of a South African poet laureate, but for a kid still too young to drink in public, he's ahead of the game.

"Searching for a big brother, Tyler was that"

The Sweatshirt story really unfolds when Earl meets Tyler, the Creator. The founding father of the Odd Future crew, Tyler found Sweatshirt via MySpace, the discovered then calling himself Sly Tendencies. Tyler brought his rag-tag group of young'uns together under the common umbrella of incredible talent and lack of belonging. While the head honcho's own records together with crooner Frank Ocean received the most play, critics soon grasped on Sweatshirt as the crown jewel of the co-op. On his 2010 debut Earl, Sweatshirt makes fun of his impact on Tyler's own breakthrough Bastard, quipping that his verse on the track "Assmilk" was "half the reason the review's fantastic."

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Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.