We can thank Frank Ocean, not only for making a public statement that sweeps aside shadows and offers young fans another powerfully vulnerable star to admire and emulate, but for reminding us that while proudly declaring an identity can be a politically crucial gesture, often the human heart is not so sure-footed. The process of becoming and unbecoming, loving and losing, is what often makes for the most meaningful art.


The rapper from Odd Future, whose disappearance became a pop music mystery, speaks out on where he went: Coral Reef Academy, a therapeutic retreat for at-risk boys in Vaitele, outside of the Samoan capital of Apia:

As Odd Future became more popular, though, his absence was harder to ignore. While Ms. Harris remained largely silent, ‘Free Earl’ became a slogan, a hashtag, a mantra. Odd Future fans began to see her as an antagonist. At one point a threatening note was left on her door.

‘I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams that this decision to send him away to a school that had the kind of support for his emotional well-being that he needed would turn into a story about locking him away,’ she said. To explain her son’s absence, she added, ‘I would’ve had to have talked about his personal life in a way that I think would’ve been really unfair.’

“Earl Sweatshirt Is Back from the Wilderness.” — Jon Caramanica, New York Times

More #longreads from The New York Times