Keorapetse Kgositsile, South African Poet Laureate & Earl Sweatshirt's Father, Dies at 79
Rest in peace Keorapetse Kgositsile.
Kgositsile was born into poverty in Johannesburg. He spent his young professional career writing for the radical anti-apartheid newspaper New Age. In 1961, he left the country in exile. He found his way to America and eventually earned his MFA in poetry from Columbia University. By 1969 he published his first book of poetry, Spirits Unchained.
Music, particularly jazz, was an essential element to Kgositsile’s work. He often performed his poetry in clubs where jazz legends performed, and he would mention jazz legends like John Coltrane in his work.
By the ’90s, Kgositsile would return to South Africa. And in 2006 he was inaugurated as South Africa’s National Poet Laureate.
Kgositsile did not have a strong relationship with Earl Sweatshirt. The rapper’s catalog is littered with songs where he talks about not having a father figure. Those songs included “Blade,” “ Burgundy,” “Grown Ups” and “Off Top.” On “Chum” he raps: “It’s probably been twelve years since my father left, left me fatherless.”
In a 2011 New Yorker story, Kgositsile was asked about his son and his rap career. Kgositsile said:
“When he feels that he’s got something to share with me, he’ll do that. And until then I will not impose myself on him just because the world talks of him.”
Kgositsile also didn’t seem to have a high opinion of hip-hop in general, saying:
“I really don’t think it’s about anything of relevance, socially, other than young people saying they’re hurt.”
Earl Sweatshirt has not commented publicly on the death of his father.
Source: SABC News