So, I’m sitting here listening to some old new Earl joints like “Dat Ass” and wondering how it’s strange that no one has an inkling of an idea where this kid is. It doesn’t make sense. This is America, man. TMZ can find pretty much anyone.
Then I grab my coffee and proceed to do my daily rounds of news surfing and stumble across Jeff Weiss’ Odd Future profile in the Times. Buried in that brilliant piece is a clue that Tyler has worked extremely hard to conceal: his last name. Tyler’s last name is Okonma. Earl’s real name is Thebe
Okonma Kgositsile. Stay with me here. Word is they’re somehow related. Brother? Cousin? No one knows for sure. Tyler won’t specify. He likes to throw people off because in his words “people believe anything.” But that’s beside the point.
The point is that both Tyler and Earl are of Nigerian heritage, which partially explains why the OF leader has been reluctant to reveal his last name for awhile. Anyone who’s ever faced some form of resistance because of their background will understand. Akon didn’t divulge his heritage until he was already a global phenom. It was too late for anyone to resist him then. Barack, as confident and charismatic as he seems today, struggled with the idea of being that kid with a funny last name, and he could have passed for a white kid.
Back to Tyler and Earl though. Another reason Tyler hid his real identity is that he was sure people would dig in and probably find the clue to Earl’s whereabouts. If you know anything about African parents, then you know this: their universal cure for rebellious kids is to send them to boarding school in Africa. It’s one of the shittiest things you’ll ever live through as a kid. I spent three months at one of those in my younger days. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was so shitty that I swore off school for the rest of my life. I still have the scars–both physical and mental–to show for that experience. It’s far worse than boot camp. Believe that.
Think about it. We keep hearing that Earl is in boarding school or boot camp, yet no one’s heard a pip from him. Tyler won’t speak of his whereabouts, other than saying that it’s too personal. The only way it makes sense is that Earl’s mom shipped him off to Africa for a dose of realities harsher than the fictionalized version he conjures in his bedroom. I’m curious to see what effect the experience will have on his music.
Someday we’ll know for sure, but if Earl isn’t in a boarding school somewhere in Africa, I’ll eat my head.
Update: Complex found Earl Sweatshirt