Having signed to J. Cole‘s Dreamville records in 2017, EarthGang – consisting of Olu and WowGr8 – have been making moves. They featured on Dreamville’s collaborative album’ Revenge of the Dreamers III’, which boasted appearances from J Cole among other label mates and became a Billboard Number One album this year, and will perform in Europe later this month. In a rap scene where viral stardom is often prioritised over musicality, they infect a dose of well-needed lyricism with their label debut.
EarthGang have some superstars collaborators here, with features from Young Thug and T-Pain – to name a few – on their third album. Assisted by multi-talented R&B singer Kehlani, noughties R&B-inspired ‘Trippin’ explores commitment in relationships. A lovey-dovey Young Thug supports the empowering, subdued ‘Proud of U’, the Atlantan trio celebrating the hardships of those “who have been hustling, grinding and letting their light shine through” – especially women. Over a beat produced by Olu himself, they profess their love for women: “Tunnel vision, only spot the keepers / Proud of you, I study you, I do the research, baby”.
‘This Side’ is EarthGang’s sonic representation of night-time thoughts. The deep bass supports the meticulous piano notes and synths, as all our heightened emotions run wild. Exploring life’s pressures, bad habits and crazy vices, Mereba’s jagged vocals contrast with the group’s hectic rapping: “We havin’ fun on this side / Whole lot of love on this side / Know you wanna come on this side / Know you wanna hop on this ride”. A tempo change takes us into a more frantic state of mind; the track’s expressionistic and profound.
Olu and WowGr8 prove to everyone that rap groups are on the rise. In a genre overpopulated with solo artists, it’s refreshing to see a duo emerge from the ashes. If you give the sick lyricism and jazz overtones a few more years, they could be the next Outkast.