This past summer, Kelefa Sanneh proposed that he write about Earl Sweatshirt, a preternaturally talented sixteen-year-old rapper. Nine months later, Sanneh has produced an epic eight-thousand-word story that should be read in full. It’s not available free online, but you can get it in the print magazine, in the digital edition, or on an iPad.
Earl is part of an eleven-person Los Angeles hip-hop collective called Odd Future, or O.F. Sanneh first noticed O.F. when they produced a music video in which Earl’s rhymes are both menacing and flabbergasting:
Go on, suck it up—but hurry, I got nuts to
butts to fuck and ups to chuck and sluts to
fuckin’ uppercut. It’s
O.F., buttercup. Go ahead: fuck with us.
The video had gone viral and, adding intrigue, Earl had somehow gone missing soon after its release. But Sanneh had lots of other things to do, and we put the idea on hold. This winter, however, Earl was still absent, and Odd Future’s popularity was surging. So Sanneh headed out to Los Angeles. Tyler, the Creator—the crew’s leader—had an album coming out, and the plan was to write about it and him. (The album, “Goblin,” came out last week, and is currently number two on the Amazon hip-hop chart.)