Free Earl. Upon hearing this any avid Odd Future listener would instantly know what the phrase means. But to many people, especially to anyone not in the music know, it would be lost on them. Recently, The New Yorker printed an article that might be poised to change that. In an attempt to cash in on the craze that is Odd Future, the newspaper had journalist Kelefa Sanneh write an article, 9 pages to be exact, entitled “Where’s Earl?”. After reading this 9 page we journey through the history of Odd Future through the eyes of someone who doesn’t understand them.
The entire appeal of Odd Future is their carefree attitude. By trying to take antics that they themselves don’t take seriously and spin them to make a movement something that it’s not is just irresponsible journalism. Taken out of context, the video for Earl can be seen as a parent’s worst nightmare – unnamed drugs and alcohol mixed together before a skate session and the mayhem that ensues. However, take away from the content of what they are staging, because let’s face it… it’s a music video, and we have some of the most creative filming to come from this generation yet. Quick cuts,mixed together with the searing lines that are “Earl”, and you have quite the provocative tale on film. If this was a student film project, and the medium was short film instead of music video, it would be heralded as raw, real, intense, and any other adjective you can choose to describe how it impacted you.
But in the day we live in, where every artist that goes against the grain is under a microscope, you have a reporter’s wet dream. Young kids, little to no supervision, drugs, blood, and skateboards. I can hear the lynch mob now. The entire article, well written or not, exploits the fact that not many middle-aged readers of The New Yorker can relate or even comprehend lyrics like “Go on, suck it up – but hurry, I got nuts to bust and butts to fuck and ups to chuck and sluts to fuckin’ uppercut. It’s O.F., buttercup. Go ahead: fuck with us.” It’s this type of set-up that leaves middle-America up in arms over groups like this, because given the context that the reporter has laid it in, this seems like the next group to inspire violence or mayhem. Not mentioning the fact that he has just described himself as a “hot and bothered astronaut, crashing while jacking off to buffering vids of Asher Roth eating apple-sauce”, Earl clearly isn’t speaking literally on this track. To Mrs. Sanneh, I would ask why Earl wasn’t investigated for masturbating while on an NASA project, but I’m sure I’d be waiting for a comment for a while. This song, and many other songs by Odd Future are made in jest, and not in reality. Tyler the Creator, the frontman of the group, states it in his newest release, Goblin, “Ok, you guys caught me… I’m not a fuckin’ rapist, or a serial killer… I lied.”. He himself knows that these type of lyrics get the response they do, and to be honest, it makes him all the more wiser for cashing in on it. But to the people like my parents, who don’t have any idea who Odd Future is nor do they care, this type of article creates pandemonium in their small worlds, because they, just like the reporter for The New Yorker, don’t get it.
The entire goal of the article is to get a word from the long missing/often talked about member of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt. This word, which in itself has already been questioned by their rep, Heathcliff Berru, basically states that while Earl has been gone, the Odd Future fan-base hasn’t been necessarily fair to his family. Recently, some unnamed fans had been seen at the home of his mother, which is quite a disturbing event. That is the only part of the article that has any sort of good cause, because even though I love shouting “Free Earl” with the rest of the masses, I would never wish any ill thoughts on any person, regardless of the situation. Earl commented with, “Please listen: I am not being held against my will,” he wrote. “Initially I was really pleased that all these people claimed that they wanted me released because I thought that translated into ‘they care.’ So time progresses and the fan base gets bigger and the ‘Free Earl’ chants get louder but now with the ‘Free Earl’ chants come a barely indirect ‘Fuck Earl’s Mom’ and in the blink of an eye my worry changes from ‘will there still be this hype when I get back’ to ‘Oh shit I just inspired a widespread movement of people who are dedicated to the downfall of my mom…’ The only thing I need as of right now is space… Space means no more ‘Free Earl.’ If you sincerely care then I appreciate the gesture, but since you know the hard facts from the source you no longer need to worry. I miss home. I don’t have any definite date though. Even if I did I don’t know if I’d tell you. You’ll hear from me without a doubt when I’m ready.” But now that their rep Mr. Berru has questioned who actually said this, I myself have some doubts. Regardless of who it came from, the message is clear… Earl
needs deserves space. My thoughts are that as fans of his music, Odd Future fans should be able to understand that while he did make music that has certain implications, they should understand that “Free Earl” doesn’t mean “Fuck Earl’s Mom” like it has turned into.
The entire article can be read on the tumblr for OFT, but in it’s 9 pages, that quote above is it’s main message. Personally, I think that it was a ploy by The New Yorker to raise a couple eyebrows and shake up mothers and fathers everywhere, but as Tyler says in Goblin,That’s bull of the sheet but they want to critique, everything that we, Wolf Gang, has ever released.But they don’t get it, cause it’s not made for them.The nigga that’s in the mirror rapping, it’s made for him.” Don’t Free Earl, let Earl free himself.