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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Earl Sweatshirt's virgin radio interview is a golden moment

Odd Future's long-missing member Earl Sweatshirt, inarguably the best lyricist of the collective, has returned home from that mysterious Samoan boarding military school his mom sent him to just as he was on the cusp of World Wide Web fame. And he had his first interview on NYC's Hot 97 with Peter Rosenberg. It's a genuine moment — however awkward or tentative he seems. They talk about stuff: being followed by fans, being compared to a young Nas, oh, and why his mother sent him away — no direct answer given there, but he says it was bigger than hip-hop. But mainly they talk about how much of an ordeal it's been for him to adjust since returning to all the hub-bub that happened in his absence.

Rosenberg: So are people hitting you up? Are you talking to them while you're gone? Are you aware that shit's bananas?

Sweatshirt: I was aware. I mean, ’cause, the Internet.

Rosenberg: And did it feel weird to be like I'm missing out on something this insane?

Sweatshirt: Yeah, it was—

Rosenberg: Were you pissed? Were you annoyed?

Sweatshirt: Yeah, initially. But then, I also got to fuckin' see that, all this shit isn't fun all the time.

And speaking of Nas, I still remember seeing him in an early interview with Fab 5 Freddy on "Yo! MTV Raps" around ’94. He was awkward as hell, too, eyes cast downward, barely audible, sullen expression. Or maybe he was just high? Anyway, the point is in an age of social media savvy (see: Tyler, the Creator) and fresh-out-the-gate fame-mongerers, it's nice to see that rap can still feel so innocent. It reminds me of that last piece of advice Johnny gave Ponyboy Curtis before he died in The Outsiders: Stay gold, Earl Sweatshirt. Stay gold.

Odd Future. $25. 9 p.m. Sun., March 25. The Tabernacle, 152 Luckie St. 404-659-9022. www.tabernacleatl.com.

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