Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All — an L.A. hip-hop collective — burst out of nowhere toward the end of the aughts, filled with young, snot-nosed hooligans that acted as fresh tinder to a flickering rap scene. Consisting of mostly teenagers, OFWGKTA’s brightest star happened to be its youngest. Earl Sweatshirt, born Thebe Kgositsile, was barely 16 when he released his self-titled debut mixtape in 2010. It took only a few seconds into his every-mom’s-nightmare music video “Earl” for you to realize he was something both twisted and special. (In the video, he and his friends take drugs, skate around and eat In-N-Out Burger before dying in a mass extinction.)
Clever wordplay and dark delivery captivated the underground internet, but his mother believed he was en route to destruction and sent Kgositsile to a boarding school in Samoa in 2010 just as his fame started to rise. While in Samoa, he worked at the Samoa Victims Support Group, where he learned to grow beyond his earlier lyrical content, which focused on death, rape and lewd situations.
Kgositsile’s absence from the spotlight only fueled his hype and he released his much-anticipated album, Doris, in August. Doris picks up where his debut left off, with dense, lyrical matter splattered over murky beats that sound like they’re escaping through the corridors of rap’s dank dungeon. Kgositsile can switch from confessional to conservative in a matter of verses, but both Earl Sweatshirts rap with the same honest swagger. He’s been compared to an early Eminem for his choice of diction and rhyming style, and it shows in his recent single “Chum.”
Kgositsile came through Eugene with Tyler the Creator last May and their show was just short of a zoo gone wild.
Earl Sweatshirt performs with Vince Staples 9 pm Tuesday, Oct. 29, at WOW Hall; $18 adv., $20 door.