When you’re in need of a bit of soulful braggadocio, your safest bet is to listen to some EarthGang: the rap world’s latest powerhouse duo are on the rise – expeditiously. Hailing from the rap juggernaut that is J.Cole’s label Dreamville Records, they have been honing their craft with some of the most formidable talents in hip-hop, polishing off the neo-rap fusions they have worked on since meeting in college over 10 years ago.
Pre-pandemic, Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (Eian Parker) were considered the next OutKast due to their jack-of-all-trades nature: they sing, rap and produce their own work. Following their 2019 debut album ‘Mirrorland’, ‘Ghetto Gods’ finds the Altantans seeking to leave a similar legacy for their city – while staying true to its trap-originating roots.
Even more so than its predecessor, ‘Ghetto Gods’ feels like an homage to Atlanta. Take the album’s musicality. With contributors such as Future, ‘Ghetto Gods’ may plant seeds for other Atlantans inspired by the duo. Celebrating the ostentatious bounce of 808s in trap with one of the genre’s most prolific stars, ‘Billi’ sees Earthgang duo prove that they can play in the same field as the mainstream stars of their hometown.
However, with ‘Power’ (featuring Cee Lo Green and Wild’n Out comedian Nick Cannon), they set out to make something even more meaningful. On ‘Power’, they uplift their community – especially black women – as Nick Cannon adopts a spoken-word approach: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation in my heart be acceptable and excite to the Most High”.
On another beautiful track, ‘Amen’, WowGr8 and Olu go toe-to-toe with the iconic Musiq Soulchild and Anthony Hamilton, blending trap and their trademark jazzy sounds to make the perfect amalgamation of Atlantan music. It’s out-of-the-box, innovative and really shows off theirs pens as they share decorative verses about life’s woes. But the truest reflection of EarthGang’s true penmanship appears on ‘All Eyes On Me’, as Olu’s religious metaphors make way for WowGr8’s analysis on life: “Warriors die but they live in the sky… / And God whispered in my dreams / Shawty open your eyes.”
‘Mirrorland’ may have offered more of a reflection on EarthGang’s personal lives, but with album two, it’s almost as though the duo are holding a mirror up to Atlanta. As they adopt the very sounds that cultivated them on their come-up, ‘Ghetto Gods’ should mark the start of EarthGang’s ascension to superstardom.
Release date: February 25th
Record label: Dreamville Records / Interscope