It’s a sad day in the musical community, as news has surfaced that rapper Earl Sweatshirt’s father Keorapetse Kgositsile has passed away. According to South African News outlet SABC News, Kgositsile died early Wednesday morning (Jan. 3).
Kgositsile was a lauded poet laureate and activist in the African National Congress liberation movement. Exiled from South Africa in the ’60s, Kgositsile spent time in the United States studying African-American literature. He was named a poet laureate of South Africa in 2006.
The relationship between Earl (real name: Thebe Neruda Kgositsile) with his dad could be considered a shaky one. As told through his music, the California rapper spent his childhood apart from Kgositsile, who at that time lived in far from the U.S. in South Africa. Kgositsile spoke on the rocky relationship with his son in a 2011 profile of Earl featured in The New Yorker, saying that he was not familiar with his son’s music. Kgositsile also praised his son’s intellect, saying that he could read before he started school.
Kgositsile has also mentioned Earl’s name in his poetry. In his 2002 collection of poems called If I Could Sing, a poem titled “Rejoice” contains Earl’s full name in the second line, “REJOICE / Says Thebe Neruda of the vibrant smile.”1 of 1