Poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, Earl Sweatshirt’s Father, Has Died
UPDATE: Earl Sweatshirt mourned his father publicly with a photo and poem in a tweet. He also thanked fans for their support:
ORIGINAL JANUARY 3 STORY: Keorapetse Kgositsile, father of MC, producer, and DJ Earl Sweatshirt, passed away Wednesday morning (January 3), according to SABC News. He was 79 years old.
Born in 1938 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kgositsile began his writing career at New Age, an anti-apartheid newspaper edited by political activist Ruth First. He was an active and influential member of the African National Congress in the 1960s and 1970s, and lived in exile in the United States from 1962 through 1975. He crafted a life studying African-American literature and culture and became interested in Jazz. He is considered one of the first poets to bridge African poetry with Black poetry in the United States and was inaugurated as South Africa’s National Poet Laureate in 2006.
Keorapetse Kgositsile was a symbol of South African excellence. His son, Earl Sweatshirt, is one of the more respected and intellectual figures in Hip-Hop today. The two were not close, as noted in various songs by Sweatshirt in which he details his father’s absence in their relationship.
On video single “Off Top,” from the Odd Future member’s sophomore 2015 record I Don’t Like Sh*t, I Don’t Go Outside, he spits: “What a bastard that baby was / Little mad ni**a missing dad, never praying much / Right around the same time his grand-mama drank a bunch.” It is to be noted this record was birthed out of a time in Earl Sweatshirt’s life which was ruled by anxiety and depression. He also notes of his father’s profession on “Burgundy,” a cut from his debut album Doris, with the line: “And when them expectations raising because daddy was a poet, right?” His father’s also been mentioned in “Blade,” “Grown Ups,” and “Chum.”
The subject of Earl’s dad has been a constant mention in his music, though it’s clear it was a complicated and delicate issue.
In a 2011 interview with The New Yorker, Kgositsile revealed that he has not listened to his son’s music. “When he feels that he’s got something to share with me, he’ll do that,” he said. “And until then I will not impose myself on him just because the world talks of him.”
The news of Kgositsile’s passing comes just days after Earl Sweatshirt teased the release of new material in 2018.
new chunes 2018, don’t think i wasn’t at work
— thebe kgositsile (@earlxsweat) December 31, 2017
Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to Earl Sweatshirt and the family and fans of Keorapetse Kgositsile.