Maybe Earl Needs To Be Freed After All

Down the Earl Sweatshirt rabbit hole we go. After the New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh spent numerous months and 8,000 words on an article investigating the station and situation surrounding M.I.A. Odd Future prodigy Earl Sweatshirt (born Thebe Neruda Kgositsile), the magazine hosted a live online chat with the writer so he could answer questions from curious, and occasionally doubtful, readers. Sanneh’s article quoted an email conversation with what he assumed to be Earl, though the identity of his email partner could not be certified beyond the word of Earl’s mother, who facilitated the exchange. What was known with certainty: Earl was in a school for troubled boys in Samoa, as discovered by Complex magazine’s Facebook profile detective work. The participant in Sanneh’s email exchange, presumably Earl, asked the world to leave his mother alone and to end the “Free Earl” chants, because he was there voluntarily. During his online chat, Sanneh admitted “there’s simply no way of knowing whether (or how much) [Earl’s] replies were influenced by his family, or his school.” According to Complex’s latest round of sleuthing — hanging out on the Facebook page and later communicating directly with the kid who first posted the photo of Earl in Samoa — there’s reason to doubt the reliability of those Earl quotes.

You can read the Facebook postings and interview of Earl’s Samoa classmate at Complex. (The Samoa classmate’s name is Tyler, of course, just to make things a little more confusing.) According to Tyler, The Classmate: Earl hates the school, hates his mom for sending him there, and has talked about making songs dissing both upon his eventual return to the States (which may not even happen until he is 21, still a good three years away).