Earthgang has definitely put in the work to get to the point they are at today. Although Mirrorland, which is the group’s major label debut, may be one of the first real introductions that a lot of the rap world will get for them, Earthgang has been grinding and perfecting their craft for ten years. After having a few mixtapes go viral in the early 2010s, they got noticed by J. Cole and ending up signing to the Dreamville music label. Over the last year, they have had a couple of their singles from Mirrorland go viral, like ‘Stuck’ with Arin Ray, which I guarantee you have heard while in a store somewhere or something (I feel like I hear this track in random ass settings), and ‘Proud of U’ featuring Young Thug, which has been praised online by other members of the hip hop community like Rico Nasty and Kenny Beats. On Mirrorland, Earthgang is continuing to perfect their signature style, combining the sounds of a lot of classic Atlanta hip hop artists with new trap sounds to make a sound that is totally unique. Sometimes they sound like they came right out of the Dungeon Family, as their appreciation for the music that helped Atlanta take over hip hop is very apparent. At other times they are yell-rapping over in your face funky trap bangers, showing they can bring as much or more energy than any other trap rapper in Atlanta right now. Coming from a city where being weird, creative, and eccentric is key to standing out, Earthgang has an other worldly style that is truly their own. Earthgang very well could be the next great and game changing artist to come out of the city that dictates most of the trends in popular music today.
This record gets off to a truly wild start. ‘LaLa Challenge’ is jam-packed with different sounds and styles and flows as possible, but it does not feel cluttered at all. The beat switched up more than once, and the melody throughout the track is mainly provided by this chanting singing that sounds like it should either be sung with a jazz ensemble or in a black Southern Baptist Church. Both Olu and WowGr8 have such distinct styles from each other, but their sounds go seamlessly with each other. It is crazy how much-unforced chemistry this duo has. The next track, ‘Up,’ has such a different sound than the first one. Earthgang is already showing how incredibly diverse their sound is. This track was released as a single for the album, and gained a lot of praise over the last year for the crazy and fun performance of the song the group did for the COLORS YouTube channel(If you have never checked out COLORS, you need to because it is sick. All I am going to say) Up has a country funk hip hop vibe that reminds me a lot of some of OutKast’s work on Stankonia. This song has so much joyful and awesome energy. The duo raps with so much passion on this track about how they are proving their doubters wrong, that you can’t help but root for them. Earthgang is definitely on its way up.
How’s your mental? How do you cope with all you’ve been through? How’s your tempo? Who in this life are you really close to?
‘Top Down’ was the last single that was released for Mirrorland, and besides maybe ‘Stuck’ I feel like it has the best pop radio single sort of style. This track is an easy breezy jazz rap banger that reminds me a lot of the songs on Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book. I feel like Earthgang would have been a really great feature on that album had they been big enough to be included at that time. Chance and Earthgang definitely need to work together. The bar above is from the second verse, which is spit by WowGr8. I love how introspective his lyricism always is; he really does write from the heart. The next track on Mirrorland is ‘Bank,’ and it is probably one of the hardest if not the hardest song on this record. It is a trap banger that sounds like it is straight out of Kenny Beats’ world; I am glad hip hop’s honorary police officer is having so much inluence on modern rap beats because Kenny’s beats are so energetic and fun. This beat is so weird and the flows of both rappers remind me of Ski Mask the Slump God or Smokepurpp. After the craziness and intensity of ‘Bank,’ the album could definitely use a more chill song to give listeners a bit of a break, and ‘Proud of U,’ which features Young Thug, fills that role very well. It is very apparent that Thugger had a major influence on the production and style of this song, because it honestly sounds like it could have been on his pop-trap album Beautiful Thugger Girls. Both members of Earthgang sound very natural on this track, and it is another example of how diverse they are as a group; it does not matter what the instrumental sounds like, because they will sound super smooth and clean on anything.
N****a, keep your head on a swivel. There’s trouble lurkin’ ’round the corner. Run up on you any minute, you’ll be gone. I know n****as dead out of desperation…
Although ‘Swivel’ is sonically one of the more chill songs on the record, lyrically it is anything but chill. Over an old school 90’s beat made on an 808, WowGr8 and Olu tell the story of a time they were robbed. This robbery was the result of the death of one of their good friends, and this death changed their outlook on life, as you can hear in this song. They are paranoid now and know they have to keep their heads on a swivel, because you never know who you can actually trust. ‘Tequila,’ which features T-Pain, is about as head spinning as the title would suggest. The instrumental on this one has that trippy jazz funk vibe that most of the other songs on the record have, but their are these weird crazy loud horns and trumpets throughout that make this song very exciting and danceable. It sort of sounds like the trumpets and horns are half inspired by a Mexican mariachi band and half inspired but a Cuban jazz band. This song has some of my favorite vocals from the album; the raspy high singing of Olu and low chill voice of WowGr8 mesh so well with T-Pain. ‘Trippin,’ which features Kehlani, has a jazz funk sound and melody pretty similar to ‘Tequila.’ This song sounds more like and R&B track than it does a rap song. All of the vocals are sung so well, and the vibe of the song is so slow and smooth. This song songs like a jazzy R&B song out of the 60s. The singing on this one is a very cool switch up from the intensity of the vocals on most of the rest of the record.
I’m stuck to you. I am sorry I can’t get loose. I’m stuck to you. I apologize for all the times I blew…
The aforementioned ‘Stuck,’ which features Arin Ray, is also one of my favorite tracks on this record. The vibe of this one reminds me a lot of Anderson.Paak.The funky grooves and jittery energy of the song will make anyone want to dance; this song is a really great club song. It is amazing to me how diverse of artists these guys are; the fact they Olu can sing like that on this song and spit so hard on a song like ‘Bank,’ which is obviously so different, is awesome. ‘Fields,’ which features Malik, once again switches up the vibe, leaving that jittery energy for more of a chill and soulful tone. I really love the beat on this song because it sounds like Rhinestone Eyes by The Gorillaz. The melody on this song is super nice and sweet; it is very classicly R&B, and actually makes me think of Alicia Keys. Once again, it is cool how they can switch up their sound in so many ways. The album closes out with ‘Wings,’ which once again sounds like it could have been on Chance’s Coloring Book. This track is a really great closer for this album; the uplifting jazz melody and the vocals in this track are very positive and seem to bring the whole album back down to earth. On this track, the duo is singing about how they need to spread their wings and soar, which I would say was totally accomplished with this record. After how chaotic the rest of the album is, ‘Wings’ does a great job of wrapping it all up.
Earthgang’s Mirrorland really is a very wild ride. It feels like being in one of those mirror funhouses at a carnival; the energy and sound of this record changes with every song. I wouldn’t say that Earthgang is necessarily doing anything new, because they definitely wear their influences on their sleeve. I love that though because their music is an ode to what inspires them. This album is funky and hard and sometimes trap and it paints a picture of growing up in Atlanta, where they are from. If you love Chance the Rapper, trap music, and Anderson.Paak, do not miss this album, because it has it all. Listen to Earthgang’s Mirrorland below!