The South African poet was 79.
Losing the person responsible for your existence is tough, possibly more so if your relationship with them isn’t good. Unfortunately, that’s the situation Earl Sweatshirt is in, as his father, poet and political activist Keorapetse Kgositsile, has passed away. According to the South African news website SABC, Kgositsile was 79 years old.
Kgositsile was an influential member of the African National Congress, the revolutionary party that has ruled South Africa since the overturning of apartheid. Regardless, he was forced into exile in the United States, where he fathered Earl (birth name: Thebe Neruda Kgositsile) with Cheryl Harris, a UCLA law professor. Kgositsile separated from Harris and his son when Earl was eight years old.
In addition to Earl, Kgositsile has three children with South African Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete. Earl’s relationship to his poet father was strained at best, which he’s addressed it several times in his music.
“Grew up in a home that papa wasn’t in/Came up off of work that my conscience wasn’t in,” he rapped in the song “Grown Ups” from his critical hit I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside.
On that same album, he mentions missing his father on the song “Off Top.”
“What a b*stard that baby was/Little mad n*gga missing dad, never praying much/Right around the same time his grandmama drank a bunch,” he raps.
However, it’s unlikely that his father heard the sounds he was making. Kgositsile revealed in interviews — after Earl found fame as part of the Odd Future collective — that he’d never listened to any of his son’s music. Because he made the choice to leave his son behind, Kgositsile told The New Yorker that he would wait until his son made it known that he wanted him to listen before coming back into his life.
“When he feels that he’s got something to share with me, he’ll do that,” he said. “And until then I will not impose myself on him just because the world talks of him.”
In the same interview, Kgositsile did praise his son’s intelligence, noting that the rapper was reading before he started school.
While Kgositsile’s poetry during the revolutionary period was noted for its fire and spirit, his post-ANC victory poetry is much more muted and filled with a sort-of doubt. Take his poem “Recollections,” which deals with the sense of confusion over what to do next after you’ve reached your goal.
Though you remain
To be alive
You must have somewhere
Your destination remains
As for Earl, he’s been staying busy. He dropped a beats EP for the low, low price of $111.11 back in November, shortly before dropping a new line of clothing called DEATHWORLD. The relatively affordable range of clothing caps out at a $90 windbreaker, but Earl stans on a budget can grab socks for $15.
With regards to new music, Earl told his fans that he has new songs coming this year. He kicked off the new year by announcing that new songs are coming, his first new material since 2015.
“New chunes 2018, don’t think i wasn’t at work,” he wrote on Twitter to much fanfare.
He has yet to respond publicly to the news of his father’s passing. Keep his family in your prayers during this trying time. What do you think? Sound off in the comments and be sure to SHARE this article.