Earl Sweatshirt is still a rap fan first

But I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. I had to locate where I was uncomfortable, and that was writing a song bar for bar, like a freestyle. The gray Sunday morning when I wrote “Sick!” was one of those times. I was bored and didn’t know what the beat was going to do, and it was clear movement. I was just like, “Nigga, come on, we gotta do this,” until I did.


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When I interviewed your friend Navy Blue last year, he talked about making songs that reflected more of his optimism in person. He said it came from conversations with you.

We still talk about it, because ultimately that’s the goal. I try to make niggas laugh one time. Give me anything. A smile. A raised eyebrow. An “Oh no, no, no, you have to go back.” Over the past couple of years I’ve been really brief, not wasting much time, but not too obscure. I don’t want to make fortune cookies, I want to make it happen.

Reminds me of how I listen to Michigan rap.

Exactly. Michigan rap is like boxing. It will be jabs, and then there will be this random hook or ribbing. That’s how Babyface Ray raps, he does shit that doesn’t even rhyme rhyme. This is why Rio [Da Yung OG] is such a fucking good rapper. There will just be lines that will stay with you. Remember when he said, “E, where’s the fucking drinker?” [laughs]

Jadakiss is a keeper of the word, a master of his craft. That’s what happens when you don’t put too much pressure on it and make a love affair out of it. From performing, researching, writing and listening, make it a thing of love. That’s the job, but not in a crude way. In a spiritual sense.


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Even though you barely mention being a new father on the album, would you say that experience inspired the music?

It’s gonna be crazy that I didn’t post holding it on the back cover, while I’m shirtless and in front of a low rider. But he’s my real son, man. I write about him and have joints coming out, but I just need to get a grip on his presence here before sharing it with a wide audience. It’s a baby, bro. He’s my twin. He’s already guaranteed to have motherfuckers in his face, and I’m sorry because. It’s not a normal thing.

Are there any songs on the album he was on?


It’s the one I’ve run the most.

I knew it. I was going to ask you, but I knew it. See, it’s not about him, but he’s involved. This shit is about when keeping it real goes wrong. Learn where reckless honesty lies when your agenda isn’t most important anymore.

Where did you learn that?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the lessons I learned with my pops [the poet Keorapetse Kgositsile], and there’s definitely some stuff with my son that I don’t want to recreate, like when work intersects with your kids. But it was give and take with my pops. He is committed to being a keeper of the word. That’s what he had to do. At the time, I was looking for a more traditional relationship with him, but as I got older, I understood him better. I remember about feet of clay, and during my year of mourning, Mach [-Hommy] was around a lot. I was in it super bad, and he was like, “How are you gonna figure out some shit he did when he was 50, and you’re not 50?”

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