Boutique mag Citizens of Humanity recently got Earl Sweatshirt and Mike Tyson together in Las Vegas to talk at length about celebrity persona, growing up and human nature. The result is a surprisingly deep and sincere exchange between two bright stars on either side of the career parabola. We’ve dropped some of our favourite questions and responses below. Click through to the via for the full interview. It’s a long one, but most definitely worth your time as it’s a side of both men that you’re unlikely to have seen before.
Earl: No, I swear, I was talking to someone yesterday, and I said the mark of me being an adult was when I got to the point where I realized how little I knew.
Mike: Oh, man. I’m humbled with that every moment of my life. I think I know a lot, but I don’t know anything. I think I know a lot; they talk about a lot of subjects and issues but in the scheme of the world, it’s really not even a grain of salt.
Earl: I broke the law, but it wasn’t so much that, she was worried about my identity, you know what I mean, and just how I was establishing it. Like the man I was becoming. So I had to spend that year and a half just like searching for myself, you know what I mean, just like figuring myself out.
Mike: We don’t know at 20 years old the man we want to be. I just recently found out the man I wanted to be in life. I said, “This is the guy I want to be.” And I realized everything I did in the past prevented me from being the person that I wanted to be, so I don’t do what I did in the past anymore. But it took me to be what, 45, 47, 48 to really get it, so it’s not like I’m some genius.
I learned from experience, no one told me to follow anybody else’s example, I had to feel the stove to realize it was hot. Some people say I’m an idiot because it took me this long to get it and some people can get it right away, some people take a long time. But I got it, At least I got it, some people never get it. I grasped it. I realized I’m not in the streets, I’m not in the clubs no more, you know, I’m not sleeping with strippers or anybody like that.
Mike: I think war is led by faith. I never think of physical fighting. It’s always spiritual. Fighting is spiritual.
Earl: Absolutely. Yeah. I got familiar with that concept early, just because my mom, she was always working, so she dropped me off at this martial arts dojo. And the dude instilled – we had to meditate for an hour every time, before we did anything. We would meditate. Just to connect to the spiritual side of it. And like, going inside of yourself and realizing the immense power that lies within you, just as a person.
Mike: You know young man; it’s all about spiritual awakenings. I could never stop drugs, I could never stop drinking, doing stuff, until I received my spiritual awakening. Now it’s not a problem anymore. But I’ve been doing this since the ’90s, late ’90s and I never could stop but I never understood the spiritual awakening. And once that comes into play, it’s really eye opening.
Earl: It’s so much bigger than human constraints.
Mike: There’s nothing to fear but fear itself. It’s an illusion of fear. Fear is an illusion. If you gonna die, you gonna die anyway; it’s not something to fear, fear is not gonna help.
It’s going to be over soon. Somebody’s going to die, or somebody’s going to get sick, someone might leave. It’s not going to last forever. You know, it’s going to be over soon. You know, the thought of that never enters my mind. This is the reality of life. I watched that movie The Notebook. You ever watched that?
Earl: I haven’t watched it.
Mike: Ah, young man, I don’t even know if you understand that stage of life yet. Very interesting thing about that movie, very interesting, it’s one of the movies that makes me really vulnerable. It makes me very vulnerable, because you work so hard for something and you don’t want to let it go.
Mike: I look at my beautiful son, he’s so beautiful and handsome. And I think what a guy like me would do to this face. I would choke it, take a chunk of meat out of his head, bite his beautiful face. I would hurt him, and I’m just looking at him and I’m thinking your dad was one of them animals out there. I don’t expect my kids to be “fighters”; my kids never lived in a condemned building with their family. Most of them are at Ivy League schools, their mothers are good mothers, you know, they do good stuff with them. I don’t want my kids to be like me, I don’t want my daughter to date the guy like me. You know, a guy like me success is to take care of my children to take care of their life and make ‘em cushioned. I don’t want them to be around a people like me. You know, success for me would be that they never have the opportunity of being in the presence of someone like me.