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Shows that went on way too long
"Californication" (seven seasons)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Earl Sweatshirt thinks about it for a second and admits something surprising.
“I’m pretty (expletive) happy all the time now, to be honest,” he says.
Hip-hop’s troubled prince says during a recent phone interview that having his much-anticipated major label debut, “Doris,” out is a relief and everything has been perfect in the time since it debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. He’s just boarded his tour bus and was handed an advance copy of “Grand Theft Auto V.”
All smiles all the time.
“Everybody’s screaming,” he says. “Everybody’s really excited.”
This is an exceptional moment in the story of Thebe Kgositsile, who made a dazzling debut three years ago as the enigmatic wunderkind rapper Earl Sweatshirt, a prodigiously talented teen rapper who was rising to fame — but not necessarily in the way he daydreamed about.
Sure, his ecstatically received debut “Earl” and membership in the suddenly hot Odd Future collective got him a bit of notoriety. Almost immediately, though, his mother, Cheryl Harris, enrolled him in a Samoan boarding school due to his behavior, and his story took on the quality of urban myth.
His disappearance from the public eye became one of the great mysteries of music journalism with reporters trying to reconstruct his story without his participation. That he’s the son of South African poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile only added to the mythic quality. Cries of “Free Earl!” were common on the web and rumor was taken as truth.
The inability to control the narrative was frustrating, and the hype that ensued was impossible to match. Anticipation for new music was so high when he returned to the U.S. early last year, he wasn’t sure how he’d meet the expectations. All these experiences have changed him, he says in an animated moment.
“I don’t like anyone anymore,” Kgositsile said. “It ruined my human relations. Overall, the places that I’m in constantly that I have to be because it’s my job now, I hate so many people. … It’s just rap is such a scummy place, dog. It’s like no other genre. And I’m not talking about rappers, per se. I’m talking about, the subculture of it is gross.”
He chronicles the pressure of making “Doris” and tries to answer the nonstop questions about his past, his relationships with his parents and his friendship with Odd Future alpha Tyler, the Creator, in dense, dazzling bars that flow with the patience of molasses.
Mature and introspective, it is not the work of an artist overtaken by the hype machine. There are no pop star features, no songs aimed at radio airplay. Given his previous work, this should not have been a surprise.
“It took a while, though, for them to get that I wasn’t about that,” he said of his record company, Columbia Records, describing one of their early suggestions of “a beat from someone that already had a hook on it. It was like a beat-plus-hook pack at like Kmart.”
Kgositsile relates the experience in “Burgundy.” Friend Vince Staples plays the antagonist in the song who chastises, “Why you so depressed and sad all the time? … What’s the problem, man? … Don’t nobody care how you feel. … We want raps.”
Earl responds that even though his grandmother’s dying, he’s still trying to deliver the album. His priorities are messed up. “I know it, afraid I’m going to blow it, and when them expectations raisin’ it because daddy was a poet, right? … I’m about to relish this anguish and I’m stressin’ over payment so don’t tell me that I made it, only relatively famous in the midst of a tornado.”
Kgositsile loves the opening to “Burgundy.” He believes it’s the best thing he’s ever made, and “I don’t speak highly of anything I do.”
Dominique Cole, the Odd Future member who performs as Domo Genesis, points out the cinematic “Burgundy” was made by an artist who hasn’t turned 20 yet.
“That’s the first time he really got intricate like that and giving people a piece of what he was really thinking instead of straight-up rap, you know?” Cole said.
Domo first met Earl on Myspace and he was soon hanging out at The Trap in Los Angeles where Odd Future was cooking up an alternate rap reality. He said “Doris,” with its woozy beats, down tempos and dark humor, reflects Earl’s idiosyncratic world view perfectly.
“He’s real spacey,” Cole said. “He lives in his own space. He kind of like doesn’t want to get that disrupted. … He was just rapping because he was having a good time, not because it was the thing to do or there were hits to make. We were just doing it because we didn’t know what to do with our spare time.”
Now there is no spare time. He has crisscrossed the country promoting the album, traveled to Europe and will be on tour through October. He’s doing it all with a sense of satisfaction, though.
“I’m just glad I got to put out the album I wanted to. I didn’t have to compromise at any point really,” he said. Asked if that made him proud, he said: “Yeah, I’d say I’m proud. I don’t know. I’m excited for the next one.”
Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott
"Californication" (seven seasons)
"Entourage" (eight seasons)
Much like “Californication,” this man-centric show started strong and buzzy -- a perpetual nominee at the Golden Globes and Emmys, and a perceived gender-swapped “Sex and the City.” Then it ground on and on, and what might once have been read as a sophisticated satire of Hollywood materialism became a grinding conveyor belt of self-congratulatory guest-star appearances.
"Will & Grace" (eight seasons)
Hey, did someone say “self-congratulatory guest-star appearances?” Look -- it’s Jennifer Lopez, and Cher, and Janet Jackson, and Madonna! The latter seasons of “Will & Grace” effectively ruined the fun of watching the show in syndication now -- will it be a fun and jaunty early episode, or a later episode in which title characters enact an Ibsen play about having a baby together (really) while Jack and Karen meet one pop star or another? The fact that the show hastened a widespread acceptance of gay people that, then, made the show something of a throwback by the time it ended is one thing; the fact that the show itself seemed uninterested in relying on its actors’ sharp comic timing is quite another.
"The King of Queens" (nine seasons)
This CBS stalwart just kind of kept going, exactly as long as was needed to launch Kevin James’ film career. In the show’s final minutes, a formulaic sitcom became a mile-a-minute soap, with the central characters considering divorce and then having two children.
"Frasier" (11 seasons)
Though it ended strong, "Frasier" had something of the opposite problem as “The King of Queens”: While the CBS comedy chucked a whole bunch of plot at viewers toward the end, NBC’s Emmy magnet stayed stuck in familiar ruts, with Frasier questing endlessly for love and Daphne and Niles in fairly unthrilling domestic bliss. The jokes stayed good, but this maybe could have gone one or two years shorter.
"Weeds" (eight seasons)
As “Homeland” viewers may be learning, Showtime isn’t particularly good at keeping its shows coherent over time. (Maybe this is “Californication”’s issue -- we wouldn’t know!) This show changed settings and, effectively, organizing conceits so many times that by the end, it had few earnest defenders.
"Nip/Tuck" (six seasons)
This FX series, too, changed settings midway through, moving from Miami to Los Angeles four seasons in for no compelling reason. The show’s most gripping subplots had a way of petering out (remember the anticlimactic solution to the mystery of the Carver?), and its bizarre tendencies overtook any sense of fun.
"Glee" (five seasons and counting)
The series has, like its sibling show “Nip/Tuck” (Ryan Murphy created them both), switched locations, moving in large part to New York once its core cast graduated high school. But what’s the point of a high school series when the stars graduate? Despite some lovely moments, the show’s heat seems gone, and attempts to get back into the conversation (the school shooting episode, for instance) have been more desperate and tone-deaf than effective.
"Grey's Anatomy" (10 seasons and counting)
Here’s the thing: By all accounts, “Grey’s Anatomy” is not a creative failure. And it’s still widely watched. But when you begin your life as a world-beating hit, anything else seems somewhat marginal. “Grey’s Anatomy” has shed more regular viewers than many shows will ever hope to get in the first place (same’s true of “Survivor” and latter-day “ER,” to name just a few). Those who stopped watching once the Golden Globe nominations petered out may wonder why the show is still on; loyal viewers know better.
"The Simpsons" (25 seasons and counting)
Like the “Grey’s” doctors, the Springfield clan and their neighbors still draw a crowd. But “The Simpsons” is so omnipresent in syndication and in pop culture that the first-run series seems besides the point (not least because, though there are good episodes here and there, the show’s best days are universally agreed to be behind it -- like way behind it, in the 1990s).
"The Office" (nine seasons)
There was a natural break for this show, where it ought to have ended -- with the departure of lead actor Steve Carell in Season 7. The latter years were a creative fugue state, and as NBC’s Thursday night lineup continued to flatline in the ratings, one-time fans could be forgiven at their surprise that the adventures of Jim and Pam kept on unfolding.
"The X-Files" (nine seasons)
Once one of the show’s leads departs and has to be replaced -- as Steve Carell did on “The Office,” or David Duchovny did here -- the show faces a reckoning; if the lead is so central to the show’s plot as to make people wonder how the show could possibly go on, maybe the show shouldn’t. And even “X-Files” superfans might have been happier with fewer seasons of drawing out the conspiracy string toward a famously unsatisfying ending.
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