The following is the full cover story from Mass Appeal Issue 52. Photos by Sagan Lockhart.
ODD FUTURE BRETHREN EARL SWEATSHIRT IS THE MAN.
WORKAHOLICS WILD MAN BLAKE ANDERSON IS THE MAN.
MEET THE MEN.
Somewhere in Hollywood, California, Earl Sweatshirt leisurely skates down the sidewalk, polyurethane wheels zig-zaggin’ and zoomin’ over literal Stars on the Walk of Fame. A lot of the celebrity names enshrined in cement immortality on this block are long-forgotten figures, unbeknownst to the many young people who stroll by here on a hot, sunny, splendid winter weekend afternoon in Los Angeles. But many of those young kids lucky enough to spot Earl skating by instantly recognize the Odd Future artist, and some of them, like the skinny dude in skinny jeans who just noticed him right now, even spazz out, not so much saying, “Hey, Earl,” but rather just pointing at him and making weird noises. Earl totally shrugs it off, though. Actually, he might not even have noticed the guy.
If you know anything about Earl Sweatshirt, you probably know the popular 18-year-old is not sweating fame. He’ll tell you he’s bad in social settings, at meeting new people. But amongst people he knows and is comfortable around, he’s not really that shy, often saying some pretty damn funny things, and usually adopting various voices and making faces to heighten a joke. He also seems to like doing random things just for a laugh, like taking his newly adopted “Lucky Dog” (an inflatable plastic canine used for the Mass Appeal cover shoot) for a walk in public and actually talking to it, or screaming “Get out of here!” at his skateboard when it slips off the wall of his messy apartment and slides over to his feet. But you can tell he’s also quite bright, a fast thinker good at making quick-fire quips.
His homie Blake Anderson, one of the stars/creators of the extremely hilarious, kick-ass Comedy Central series Workaholics, is also quite smart with lightning-speed observational skills and is, as you’d expect, funny as shit. Anderson arrives today chill as can be with his lady by his side. He’s rockin’ a peyote-friendly Carlos Santana tee, some bizarro toy sunglasses shaped like an animal, and a six-pack of San Pellegrino Blood Orange (“Aranciata Rossa” if you’re fancy) with packs of Strawberry Fields Tic Tacs for everybody to share. Blake’s blonde, bushy ‘n’ bountiful coiffure certainly attracts attention anywhere he goes, but so does his sometimes wild behavior, like the time in 2010 when he jumped off the roof at a house party and landed on his back, royally fuckin’ it up, but thankfully living to see another day.
The two buds are both, at least for the time being, not as hectic as they will both soon be. Earl, finally back in a regular groove after his caring mother unexpectedly shipped him off to the Coral Reef Academy in Samoa over two years ago in fear that her son was going down the wrong path and needed some help, is in the final stages of mixing Doris, his follow-up to the awesome Earl, while Blake has some time away from his show that is going into its fourth and fifth seasons of production. On this lazy afternoon, the duo and immediate friends who also include photographer Sagan Lockhart, lounge about just shooting the shit, looking at a ‘zine with a hot, steaming cartoon turd on the cover, and listening to Gary Wilson’s special brand of “music for perverts.” When Lil B escapes from Earl’s iTunes playlist next and invades the sonic atmosphere of the room, everyone involuntarily starts noddin’ their heads in approval. When Based God asks through the speakers, “Why you in my house?” both Earl and Blake react with big-ass grins. “What a great fuckin’ question,” says Earl.
Well, Mass Appeal managed to ask these two fine, upstanding gentlemen a few questions of our own, and while these queries may not be as great as anything Based God can come up with (but, really, let’s be honest, who can compete with Based God?) we’re pretty damn sure that the often funny answers of Earl Sweatshirt and Blake Anderson will be worthy of your time.
Mass Appeal: Let’s start with how you two met.
Earl Sweatshirt: It was Coachella 2012.
Blake Anderson: We were in a beautiful garden by a fountain.
ES: There was beer. And champagne.
BA: And I saw this gentleman and he came up to me and he said his name was Steve. And I’m like, “Alright, sounds good to me.”
That’s how most beautiful relationships start.
ES: “Hi, I’m Steve.” That is how most beautiful relationships start. I remember one of the first questions I asked you was, “Are you tryin’ to hit this [joint]?” And you were like [fake English accent], “I don’t mind if I do.”
BA: The garden is a very magical place.
Was Carlos Santana there? [Blake is wearing a Santana t-shirt]
BA: I don’t think Santana was there. But he’s more than welcome to join.
ES: Next time.
BA: I bet Santana would be a homie, too.
ES: “You tryin’ to hit this, Santana?”
BA: You know he would. Santana always hits it.
ES: Hits it right. [Laughter]
Do you skate Blake?
BA: I watch it from afar. All my buddies growin’ up, they skateboarded. But I have no talent for it. So I just kinda had to hang around and watch them have their fun.
ES: I actually suck at skating. I missed the generational curve that all my friends had, like where you’re supposed to get better. I just kinda leveled out. There’s a lot of shit that I physically can’t do. But I have fun.
How did you get into skating?
ES: Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1. There was this song I really liked. And it made me want to skateboard. Because I thought songs like that would be more involved with my life if I skateboarded. It didn’t happen.
You can’t skate as good as “Tony Hawk”?
ES: Nah, I just can’t skate as good as that song.
Blake, you don’t skate, but when it comes to having dangerous spills and crashes you’ve had plenty. Wanted to ask you about that jump from the roof you did.
BA: I landed it.
You did. You broke your back though, right? What was the medical diagnosis?
BA: Yeah, that’s the medical term for it: breaking of the back. [Laughter]
I was reading some of the comments on the Internet and some people were mad at you for jumping off the roof like that. Some of the comments were like, “This guy is on TV. He has it all. And now he’s out there breaking his back.”
BA: Well, that wasn’t like my goal that I set out for. I didn’t say like, “Hey, I’m gonna try to break my back here.” I had a feeling I might get hurt, but that was definitely not the end game. But, you know, it happened and I dealt with it. We’re good now. Shout out to Dr. Pablo … What a guy. Can really fuse a back together. [Whistles]
Do you ever have to deal with annoying people who maybe come up to you, and because you’re on a funny show, expect you to always be cracking jokes?
BA: I’m lucky because I think people either expect me to be one of three things, and that’s either funny, drunk or high. And I’m usually at least one of those things at all times.
What about you, Earl?
ES: Well, around people that I don’t know, I’m almost socially retarded. So it works out in my favor half the time because people think either I’m socially retarded or just very mysterious.
So you’re a detective. [NOTE: WTF, HAVE NO IDEA WHY I SAID THIS. HAHA. RANDOM.]
BA: You took the words right out of his mouth.
ES: That was my next sentence. “I’m a detective.” [Laughter] I’m either socially retarded, mysterious, or a detective.
BA: The Socially Retarded Detective.
But back when both of you were just starting out, did you ever think about what it would be like to be “famous?”
ES: I mean I thought about it, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Like I thought I would have time to not be awkward anymore. But it just kind of imposed itself on me, so — [starts making an exaggerated mock sad-face and gets quiet].
BA: I guess what you don’t expect is to be invited to those cool events and shit. That’s the best part of it all. Or free food. If people hook you up like, “Yo, eat this hot dog, just because I like you.” Pizza. I should say pizza, not hot dog. Those are the perks.
ES: I think Blake has it worse than I do though because he has this magnificent head of hair that’s instantly recognizable.
BA: It is a little wild for me ‘cause I do have this big ass head of hair that people can spot. And even if you don’t know [who I am] I feel like you might have seen my stupid hair around. So they’re like [in a “hick” voice], “Hey, dumb hair! Let me get a picture of you, dumb hair. I know you’re something.”
Earl, while you were away in Samoa was there anything that you DIDN’T miss about being in L.A.?
ES: I think from what I’m hearing from everyone, when OF first started blowin’ up shit was a lot more hectic, like goin’ out in public and shit. And I’m really glad I got to miss that because of the whole retarded socially thing.
So, how were you feeling back then about suddenly being “famous”?
ES: There was no way to put it in perspective because I was seein’ the same shit every day [at the Coral Reef Academy therapeutic center in Samoa]. There’s no way to actualize from a very secluded place what it’s like to be. So when I got back it was a big fuckin’ [thing]. Like for everyone else [in Odd Future] there was like a mist and there was a little bit of fog before it started raining very hard, and I just came back into a thunderstorm.
How did you adjust to your “new” life when you got back?
ES: Had a brand new umbrella. Got a nice parka.
Please don’t take this wrong way, Blake, but I looked you up on the Internet.
BA: Ooooh! What did you find on me, man?
Nothing crazy except there’s a bio of you cut and pasted everywhere that says you’re a big supporter of the hyphy movement.
BA: I wanna be the last of the Hyphy Mohicans. Actually, you could fuckin’ put that on my fuckin’ gravestone. I am the last of the Hyphy Mohicans.
You’re also a fan of E-40, right?
BA: Well, I grew up in the East Bay, so it’s just kind of bred into you. Shit you grew up with: it kinda sticks with you. I’m down for E-40, he’s cool, always in my book. It’s like the first tape I ever had, In a Major Way. Where he’s like inside the Rolex. It’s still a hard album cover.
[Earl does the E-40 “Uhoooh” sound. So does Blake.]
Do you remember when Master P was out there doing No Limit Records compilations?
BA: Yeah, it was weird. That shit spread real hard through my high school. Like, so many people were just like [jock voice], “Bro, fuckin’ Silkk the Shocker, dude. And that’s it. And that’s fuckin’ it, man. It’s Silkk the Shocker or Richie Rich, and that’s it.” So, yeah, we felt the impact of the No Limit Soldiers for sure. They rolled their armies through our town. They brought the tanks through.
Earl, on Twitter you give shine to artists that you’re feeling. Can you tell us about some of the artists that you currently like?
ES: King Krule. Lil’ B Based God.
Describe King Krule to those people who haven’t heard him.
ES: I don’t know. Pretty cool, deep ass voice, looks good.
Is he someone you want to work with?
ES: Absolutely. I think he’s my favorite new artist ever.
What about working with other artists that you like?
ES: Yeah. I’m grateful for the position that I’m in now because I have the opportunity to work with a lot of people that I like. [But] there’s not really too many people that I’m actively trying to work with though. Like, I’m happy with the little circle that I have. I tend to do music with people I’m comfortable with. And the people that I’m comfortable with happen to be really good at music. So it’s a win-win.