Ahead of their show in Toronto in 10 days, we at Smack have done our best to capture the EARTHGANG story thus far.




1/31/2020 12:30 PM

Welcome to "What About", our brand new series of artist profiles. We're gonna do our best to describe why you should give a shit about the music makers that are either on the hard come up, and/or on the cusp of mainstream success, making waves amongst fans, rock journalists, and pundits. A lot of you will know these artists and a lot of you won't know these artists, but if good music persists you will all know these artists at some point.Alternatively you might know these artists but can't grasp why they're blowing up. You see we live in a crazy world now where exciting bands, rappers, and producers are seemingly coming out of nowhere with some crazy or controversial story and even better music. We hope we can give some context and introduce you to some fresh stuff that's worth saving or even complaining about.

EARTHGANG are kind of a big deal right now. Kicking off their red hot Welcome to Mirrorland tour earlier this month, It’s a bit of a late push for the Atlanta duo. Olu (a.k.a. Johnny Venus) and wowGr8 (a.k.a. Doctur Dot) had been kicking around the Atlanta rap scene since 2008 after they met in Virginia at Hampton University. The partnership birthed a river flow of releases starting with their first EP in 2010 followed by their full length debut with 2013’s self released Shallow Graves for Toys. Then another with Strays with Rabies.

Around this period they caught the attention of J. Cole who jumped at the opportunity of signing EARTHGANG to his Dreamville imprint in 2017 and immediately putting them to work on a trilogy of EPs. With a new roster of collaborators and access to top end studios, Rags, Robots, and Royalty are where EARTHGANG really hit their stride leading up to their excellent major label debut Mirrorland last September. EARTHGANG also contributed to five songs on the Revenge of the Dreamers III label compilation released last year gaining them further exposure. It’s a lot of high caliber material.

EARTHGANG have made a name for their playful delivery, biting lyricism, and inward philosophies. But don’t confuse EARTHGANG for spiritual. They’re more about ideas like the subconscious and procreation. With high energy performances on track and stage and a distinct visual style drawn out through colourful music videos, it should be no wonder why the EARTHGANG fanbase is growing at its rate. Once referred to by wowgr8 as “freedom music,” EARTHGANG’s sound knows no bounds and represents a freedom of choice. The group have even set up voter registration tables at their concerts.

Songs like “Lolsmh” and “This Side” present clean analog sounds combining the thick arrangements of The Ohio Players, the vocal audacity of The Pharcyde, and the loose curiosity of comedian Richard Pryor. The in your face “Bank” borrows piano lines from the Mike Will Made It playbook and calls out instagram and hypebeast. Psychedelia, The Wiz, real world observation, and father-less styles. It’s a wide net of weird and cool contemporary pop culture references and Olu is definitely the Jim Carrey to wowgr8’s Jeff Daniels.

If you had to, EARTHGANG’s music is best described as the energy of funk and soul meets the conviviality and depth of Southern hip hop. It’s a 90s refocusing of multi tone flows, but in a post trap atmosphere. It’s like Outkast but history has been reversed and Migos, Young Thug, and Future have dramatically altered the landscape.

And though the Outkast comparison is considered lazy in most circles, it’s hard to deny how EARTHGANG’s similar dynamic has spawned practically the same arguments when Outkast was blowing up. Is the more flamboyant outlandish member more talented than the dressed down more reserved member or vice versa? The answer is no and irrelevant in the same way Bun B and Big Boi fulfill a purpose of balance in their respective groups. EARTHGANG is more symbiosis than competition.