Earthgang is a hip-hop duo from Atlanta consisting of rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot. They’ve been in the hip-hop scene for around a decade already and they signed with J. Cole’s label, Dreamville in 2016 which led them to releasing some EP’s and singles right after. After a few years being with Dreamville, they finally released their major label debut studio album, Mirrorland.
I was only exposed to Earthgang this year when I listened to the Dreamville collective album Revenge of the Dreamers 3 a few months ago which showcased all these Dreamville artists like J. Cole, JID, Bas, Cozz, and Earthgang among others. Even with an abundance of artists performing throughout the album, Earthgang and JID stood out to me the most and knowing that Earthgang was going to release an album in a few months, I was intrigued to say the least.
So, besides hearing them perform in a few tracks in Revenge of the Dreamers 3, I didn’t know much about Earthgang and their music which got me excited for Mirrorland which became my first real exposure to their sound.
I’m glad I went into the album only knowing one song which they also used in ROTD3 because listening to all of the other songs for the first time in the album made the listening experience a lot better. Some of the singles that they released in anticipation of the album were some of the better songs on this and it was great hearing them for the first time in the context of the album.
Mirrorland is great and it has already become one of my favorite records of this year. Earthgang’s energy throughout the duration of Mirrorland is almost unparalleled in hip-hop right now. They deliver in pretty much every track as they encapsulate different moods and dabble with different genre fusions and for the most part, they work really well.
They present their hometown of Atlanta as an amusement park with a lot of color and personality as evidenced with their opening track, LaLa Challenge. The track starts off with like a carnival vibe and it evolves into this bouncy track that showcases the duo’s energy right off the bat. This then leads to what I think is the strongest track of the project which is Up. It has this sort of creepy vibe throughout the song with the instrumentals and the background vocals but is predominantly over great bouncy production and their energy in this song is palpable because of how dynamic their performances were. After Up are two more bouncy tracks Top Down and Bank which then leads to Proud of U with Young Thug. Young Thug sounds like a perfect partner with Earthgang as he matches their energy in this upbeat song with his auto-tune crooning and flow.
The next three tracks take more of a serious and reflective tone compared to the upbeat and bouncy start the first five tracks had. In This Side, Earthgang rap over a simple bassline talking about their paranoia that comes with their fame and then with a minute left in the track a beat switch happens as they aggressively talk about the messed up stuff that they experienced because of their fame. The following track which was also included in Revenge of the Dreamers 3, Swivel, has Earthgang recalling their experiences in Atlanta and how they have to keep their head in a swivel because of all the violence and unpredictability that happens in their area. This theme continues in the track Avenue where they reflect on the on-the-edge Atlanta lifestyle they’re living.
The track that comes after that is Tequila, which is another standout track in the project. The track still fits in with the previous tracks thematically but is tackled in a different way as Earthgang again talk about how Tequila sounds like a perfect drink for them right now because of all the stress they’ve been dealing with and them struggling with using alcohol as a means to escape the difficult situations they face. The track uses Latin inspired instrumentals with the guitars and horns in the background and features a surprisingly impressive feature by T-Pain.
The final tracks in this showcase Earthgang’s groovier and funkier side as they lean towards more romantic subjects. Blue Moon is a good laid-back track with horn instrumentals in the background. Trippin featuring a great verse from Kehlani is a soulful and smooth R&B type song as they all detail the complications they have with their relationships. Another personal favorite track of mine is Stuck featuring Arin Ray. It’s Earthgang at their most soulful with great vocal performances from everyone as they reminisce about previous romantic attachments they’ve had in their life.
The last two tracks, Fields and Wings, have Earthgang reflecting on their lives in a more positive way, as they appreciate on Atlanta and how it was able to shape them into what they are today and that they will always remember to go back to their roots. They end the record with Wings as a dedication to the city and the people behind them and the assurance that their best is yet to come.
Overall, Mirrorland is one of the best hip-hop albums of the year for me. Earthgang’s lyricism and production was great in this and their energy alone is enough for you to keep on listening to every single track in this and pretty much every single track in this record was able to deliver something great. Mirrorland will definitely be in my shortlist for Album of the Year.