Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt has been missing since the group's rise to prominence, but his presence is still felt. You can feel the energy at their live shows: Fans yell for Earl tracks to be played, and the Wolf Gang wilds out like the man legally known as Thebe Kgositsile is right next to them. But he's not, and locating the talented (alleged) 17-year-old is a task no one has been able to accomplish. Until now.
Complex has done this type of investigative reporting before, and pinpointing Earl's whereabouts was no less arduous, but after taking hints from everything from Facebook posts to OFWGKTA songs, we finally have some answers. Where in the world is Earl Sweatshirt? Keep reading to follow our trail of breadcrumbs and find out.
By Ernest Baker
Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats Vow to Free Earl from Samoans
Like most Odd Future fans, we heard several conspiracy theories about Earl Sweatshirt's whereabouts. Amongst the talk of boarding school and boot camp, word about him possibly being in Samoa also made its way through the grapevine. Then OFWGKTA members Domo Genesis and Hodgy Beats released "Tang Golf" on March 30, 2011 with a revealing line at the 1:55 mark: "Ask Syd where we at. She'll tell you where we going. To free Earl from the fucking Samoans."
Military School Student Confirms Earl's Presence in Samoa
After crawling through the Internet, trying to find a connection between Earl Sweatshirt and Samoa, we came across this Facebook post that appeared to be the answer to our inquiries. In the February 6, 2011 post, the Massanutten Military Academy student says Earl was "at the program in Samoa" with him. He goes on to say that Earl is "awesome," "funny," and that his mother sent him to the program because of his "disrespectful music [and] behavior." But what program?
Military School Student Confirms Year-Long Absence in Samoa
Once we discovered that our unnamed gentleman was in Samoa with Earl, we looked further back into his Facebook feed to determine the length of his stay in the Pacific. These wall posts show a February 2010 departure from the United States and a December 2010 return. Aside from the "EARL" video (which may have been filmed months before it was released on July 26, 2010), Earl Sweatshirt's last documented videos with his OFWGKTA brethren were posted to YouTube in January and April 2010. Unlike our source, it doesn't seem like Earl is back, but the timing between the two is congruent, otherwise.
Military School Student Contacts Blogger for Earl's Contact Information
A final search of our guy's Facebook revealed these comments he left on the page of Complex Media Network website Pigeons and Planes. We contacted the blogger, who goes by the name of Confusion, and he told us that the military school student first contacted him with a personal message after he posted some of Earl Sweatshirt's music. After no reply, he publicly states that he was friends with Thebe (Earl's government name) "at the program." Time for us to find this program.
We Find Coral Reef Academy in Samoa With Possible Photos of Earl
It took a little digging, but we found a place in Samoa that sounded like it might be where Earl is or was staying: Coral Reef Academy. The therapeutic center's website touts itself a place for young men from America who are "lost in anger, depression, drugs, or alcohol" and encourages the parents of these individuals to allow their son to be "nurtured back to wholeness while being challenged toward responsible adulthood." Former attendees describe the place with less kind words, but we were less concerned with the true nature of the Coral Reef experience, and more with finding out if Earl was really there, because the site's pictures weren't enough to completely convince us.
U.S. Ambassador Confirms That Earl Was At Coral Reef Academy
Thank you, David Huebner. On September 13, 2010, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa delivered concrete evidence to support our suspicions that Earl was staying at the Coral Reef Academy. He published the photo above in a blog post about his visit to the "off-shore treatment program for at-risk teenage boys." Apparently, he was there for a fire-knife dance competition and variety show. We contacted the Coral Reef Academy to confirm with them that Thebe Kgositsile is or was ever a guest, but they couldn't legally divulge that information.
Tyler, The Creator Promises The Return of Earl Sweatshirt
Whether he's still at Coral Reef Academy in Samoa or back in L.A. by now, we need this kid to get back to making music. Have you heard his album? Seriously, free Earl.