UPDATE: Earl Sweatshirt has uploaded the Uproxx report on his recent conversation, “In/between us: A conversation on art, music, and life with Thebe Kgositsile and Cheryl I. Harris.” Taking place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Uproxx provides an intermate interview with Earl prior to his discussion with his mother, outlining why he feels he should be in conversation with her and why she is speaking. Following on from this is the 45-minute-long conversation, which can be watched above.
ORIGINAL STORY (December 16, 2019): Earl Sweatshirt recently joined his mother, UCLA Law professor Cheryl I. Harris, at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary to discuss a range of topics spanning the worlds of music and academia. The once-turbulent pairing of the two was open to all ages and garnered a range of fans who asked a range of questions surrounding Earl’s music, including whether or not he wishes his music to be understood. According to a Billboard report, Earl responded by comparing rap music to a modern iteration of slave music, further stating that he writes his material in his own code.
“Rap music is slave music. Slave communication was encrypted, spoken in code, so really this is the new version of it,” he replied. “Really, if I can understand it, I can teach it. Writing [music] is a meticulous process for me, it’s my own code. It takes a minute to figure out sometimes.” He finished by saying “[my music] is not explicitly shiny or for sale — the goal of it isn’t to sell, it’s to get it off. Rap helps me figure out life, it’s the medium I use to sort life out.”
As shared via Genius, Earl here is most likely referring to African-American spirituals — folk songs used as codified protests by slaves in the American South. Field hollers (the predecessors to spirituals) are credited with influencing a variety of Black-originating art forms, which includes blues, jazz, R&B, as well as hip-hop culture. USC Professor Todd “Notorious Ph.D” Boyd in his 2002 book The New H.N.I.C, echoes this concept of protest within his analysis of hip-hop, revealing that it grew out of the collective civil rights movements of the 20th century, with the new generation of youth turning towards individualism to assert its own values and ideas.
Earl’s most recent album FEET OF CLAY dives deep into ideals surrounding what he calls “the death throes of a crumbling empire,” introspectively dealing with the death of his father, loss of friends, and more.
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