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Earl Sweatshirt Is Leaving Columbia Records to Do “Riskier Shit”

Earl Sweatshirt’s latest album Some Rap Songs will be his final release through Columbia Records, according to a new Pitchfork profile of the rapper born Thebe Kgotsile published today. Kgotsile signed with Columbia in 2013 after returning from a stint at a reform school in Samoa, where he lived during Odd Future’s inital breakout, and released his first three studio albums through his Columbia imprint Tan Cressida. He told Pitchfork that he’s “excited to be free because then I can do riskier shit.”

One risk that Columbia apparently nixed, which may be apparent from the album’s dense short songs and quick cuts: Kgotsile intended Some Rap Songs to be released as a single extended composition. Pitchfork reports that the album’s mixing engineer Gio Escobar “was pushing hard to present the entire record as one long standalone track, but the powers that be wouldn’t allow it.” Kgotsile said, “Figuring out how you can be radical from within the system breaks your head,” and added, “Only so much can happen above ground.”

The rapper doesn’t detail any plans for distributing future output, although it sounds like he’s wrestling with whether to preserve his pseudonym. Kgotsile described the Earl moniker as an “operation” and a “thing” during the interview, and the article, entitled “Earl Sweatshirt Does Not Exist,” makes a point to refer to him as Thebe. Elsewhere in the story, the 24-year-old discusses his physical and mental health, and shares some heartbreaking wisdom on the death last January of his father, the South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, to whom Some Rap Songs pays tribute.

Read the full profile here.