Earthgang is an artist that has teetered on the edge of the mainstream and underground Trap movements for a while now. Earthgang is highly respected in the Hip Hop industry. One may wonder why an artist who is so close to so many top artists isn’t a mainstream heavyweight. But Earthgang has chosen to completely stick to their own unique sound and style. Instead of adapting to draw in a larger audience, they would rather let more and more people slowly gravitate to them. Earthgang is made up of Olu(Johnny Venus) and WowGr8(Doctor Dot), 2 friends who went to high school together in Atlanta. They originally emerged on the underground Trap music scene in the early 2010s. They put out a number of acclaimed independent projects before signing with J. Cole’s Dreamville Records label in 2015. After another series of mixtapes, they made their major-label debut with the album Mirrorland in 2019. This is a very well-received record with an eclectic sound inspired by old-school Soul music as well as Gospel music they grew up with. After a three-year wait, they have finally released their highly anticipated second record, GHETTO GODS. So much of the music world(including me) has been excited to see how they will follow their debut and if they can live up to their hype. With that being said, here is my review of Earthgang’s GHETTO GODS. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about this record. And also let me know in the comments what your favorite songs from this project are.
Earthgang’s new record starts ‘THE GLOW,’ an introduction piece delivered to us by 2 Chainz. This is an inspiring and exciting start to the project, as 2 Chainz gets us hyped up for what is to come. On ‘THE GLOW,’ which is set to an atmospheric and grand melodic instrumental that feels like it’s from a fantasy movie, 2 Chainz tells us not to look past the ghetto gods that are Earthgang. They came from humble beginnings, and now they are among the best at what they do and deserve to be respected. The triumphant feeling of this introduction Carrie’s onto the track ‘GHETTO GODS.’ This instrumental is defined by blaring horns that have such a grand and fun feeling. The production on this song is like a Trap version of the style of music Kanye made popular in the early to mid-2000s. As always, both members of Earthgang show off their unique vocals on this track. I love the weird ad-libs and vocal effects sprinkled throughout the song. On ‘GHETTO GODS,’ both WowGr8 and Olu assert his great they are. They want everyone to know they aren’t the people one should mess with. Earthgang has never been the kind of artist known for making party/turn-up style Trap music, but this is exactly what they did with ‘BILLI,’ which features Future. This is a song that’s meant for the club; it will get any dance floor bumping. The super tough Trap beat this song has is highlighted by the intense and buzzing bass line. The bass in this song is distorted and will get your speakers bumping. The first half of the song has no melody and only has a siren-like sound in tbs background. The second half of the song has a piano melody that is reminiscent of early 2010s Trap music. On ‘BILLI,’ Earthgang and Future are talking about making money. Whether it’s from partaking in criminal activities or from making music, they will make sure at the end of it all they are rich. ‘WATERBOYZ,’ which features JID and J. Cole, has quickly emerged as a fan favorite. It is easy to see why. This song has a super catchy instrumental with a very unique feel. It is soulful and psychedelic at the same time. The melody and quirky beat give such a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s is the kind of song that makes you want to smoke or drink and chill with your homies. The ad-libs and vocal effects sprinkled throughout this song are so special. They add so much substance to the song. Each of the features on this song are excellent as well. Both J. Cole and JID ride this instrumental perfectly with their flows and compliment Earthgang so well. ‘WATERBOYZ’ isn’t a song with a concrete theme. It is more just 4 great rappers doing their thing on an awesome instrumental, almost like a cypher in a way. ‘WATERBOYZ’ is a great song that makes Hip Hop fans feel great when they hear it.
‘HEY BOO’ is the first skit on this record. It is a 30-second clip given to us by DC Youngfly. In this skit, he is complaining to Earthgang about the girls he’s been dating. He wants someone who will settle down, but all he finds is people who want to have sex and stop talking. It is a funny little break that leads into the following song well. The next track is called ‘AMEN’ and features Musiq Soulchild. This is a very sweet and soothing-sounding song with an old-school Gospel feeling to it. The melody of this track is provided by a chorus that sounds like it came straight out of a Southern Baptist Church. It was such a warm and cozy element that makes me feel good when I listen to it. I love the pacing of the beat on this song as well. It has the kind of pacing that makes one want to dance. The feature on this song is extraordinarily great as well. Musiq Soulchild gives so much power and soulfulness to the song which make it awesome. On ‘AMEN,’ Earthgang and Musiq Soulchild are pleading to their women to show them how much the women love them. They state in the song that they need attention and devotion, and they need their women to show that they will provide these things adequately.
‘ALL EYES ON ME’ is a song with a sound that is reminiscent of the music Earthgang originally got popular for. It has a Jazzy R&B Trap kind of instrumental that Is so fun and warm. This song has a relaxing feeling to it. It has a fuzzy melody and sound that makes me inadvertently smile when I hear it. Lyrically, WowGr8 and Olu are expressing their love for their heritage and where they come from. They are letting the world know they are proud to be black Americans. On the next song, ‘LIE TO ME,’ Earthgang brings in some old-school funky Hip Hop. The melody of this song has a bit of a West Coast Gangsta Rap and G-Funk feeling to it. I could see artists like Snoop Dogg or Kurupt rapping on this kind of melody in the late 1990s. The tempo of this track so very slow and smooth. It makes me want to kick back and smoke with some friends. On ‘LIE TO ME,’ Earthgang are rapping about how social media is fake and how we are all too obsessed with superficial things. It seems like it’s all about what you have and not about who you are. Following this track, we get another skit, which is called ‘JEANS INTERLUDE’ and is performed by JT of the City Girls. In this little monologue, which set to a Gospel-style melody, JT is talking about how she and all of her girls are nothing to mess with. In 2022, JT and all her women are glowed up and thriving, and they want the world to know how great they are. ‘BLACK PEARLS,’ which features Baby Tate, brings back the harsh and gritty Trap feel that came through a bit at the beginning of the record. Out of everything on the record to this point, though, ‘BLACK PEARLS’ definitely has the darkest and most raucous sound. There isn’t much of a true melody on this song; instead, there are a bunch of distorted sound effects on the background that sort of sound like buzzing and screeching. This song has the kind of instrumental that reminds me of Three ) Mafia’s early work. Even though this isn’t the kind of sound one would expect from Earthgang and Baby Tate, all the artists on this song give excellent performances. On this track, all three artists are telling us why they are the shit and how they have everyone from the opposite sex wanting them. Their levels of success have made them extremely desirable, and they are taking advantage of this situation.
‘NEEZY’S WALK,’ which features Lynae Vanee, is the second break in the album. This one is considered an interlude. It consists of Lynae Vannee giving the listener a little monologue on the power of black women. In this piece, she states though men have tried to change then, they remain stronger than ever. Lynae Vanee wants to show the world that black women can handle anyone and anything, but they need to be there for each other always. Following this, we get ‘AMERICAN HORROR STORY,’ which brings back the old school funk in a big way. This track is driven by its slow burning melody, which is provided by a super groovy guitar riff. This riff has a Southern Soul sound; it reminds me a lot of some of the instrumentals that artists like 6lack and Saba embrace. One aspect of the song I have to make note of are the vocals, specifically the vocals from Olu. His range on this track is awesome and I love the quirky ad-libs he sprinkles in. These exciting vocals bring so much life to this laid-back instrumental. On AMERICAN HORROR STORY,’ Earthgang is rapping about the difficult things they have gone through in life. It is a song about their rise from their struggles. It is proof that if you work hard and have talent you can make it out of any situation. ‘POWER,’ which features CeeLo Green and Nick Cannon, is one of the most eclectic and unique sounding songs on this record(which says a lot). It starts with another very funky guitar riff, and it seems like the song will have another groovy old-school sound. Instead, the melody is taken over by a vocal sample that sounds like it came from a Middle Eastern temple. The melody provided from these vocals sort of sounds like the music at a Snake Charming show. Another interesting aspect of this song is the fact CeeLo Green actually raps. I did not expect to hear him spit a verse like this, and I have to say he kills it. The song ‘POWER’ is about black people coming into positions of influence. This song is about how hard it is to be black in America and be at the top of an industry; it describes how strong, confident, and brave the people who achieve this are.
The final skit of the project is called ‘ZAZA’ and it is performed by DC Youngfly. In this skit, he is smoking a blunt and talking about how it is making him feel like he is on an island. It is the kind of bullshit someone would mumble on about when they are super stoned. After the seriousness of the last few songs, ‘ZAZA’ is a much-needed break. ‘ZAZA’ is the perfect skit to lead into the next song, which is called ‘SMOKE SUM.’ This track has an island music and a Jamaican Dub feeling to it. The beat for this song is paced like a Reggae song; the melody is made of trippy synths, as well as weird sound effects and vocal effects. I know that I have said there have been other songs on this record that would be great to smoke to, but this is the perfect one to smoke to. It has an overall sound and style that makes one want to get high. Even the way Olu and WowGr8 perform their vocals on this song have a decidedly Caribbean feel. The lyrics are sung-rapped with a Reggae tone. On ‘SMOKE SUM,’ Earthgang’s singing about smoking to stop thinking about the issues that surround them. They see how dark and dangerous the world is, and instead of solving any problems today they just want to smoke the pain away. On the next song, which is called STRONG FRIENDS,’ Earthgang bring back that jazzy and funky R&B sound they always excel at. This song has an old-school R&B feeling to it that is warm and fuzzy and nice to listen to. There is a light Trap beat in the background which helps the song have a bit of a modern feel. The vocals from Earthgang are just as sweet as the instrumental, and they just enhance the warmth of the instrumental. On ‘STRONG FRIENDS,’ Earthgang is singing about checking in on your friends and making sure they are ok. We tend to bottle up our feelings as humans sometimes to shield others from our sorrows, and it is important to make your friends know their feelings are valid and that they have someone to talk to. The album ends on another smooth R&B Trap note with the song ‘RUN TOO,’ which features Ari Lennox. Out of all the songs with an R&B feeling to them, this is the most modern-sounding one. It has an Alternative neo-R&B sound to it which is reminiscent of Ari Lennox’s solo music. This song has a melody with a psychedelic and Trippy feeling to it. There are a lot of weird sound effects that give thing song an atmospheric and almost otherworldly feel. I love how Ari Lennox’s vocals contrast those of the members from Earthgang. She has such a powerful and sleek way of singing, and it plays off of the off-kilter and quirky vocals the members of Earthgang produce. On ‘RUN TOO,’ Earthgang and Ari Lennox are singing about just living life and doing your best. They acknowledge that life can be tough, and all we can do is keep trying and keep moving forward. It’s an uplifting and positive way to end the record.
If you are a big fan of Earthgang’s, I don’t think you could have asked for more from them on GHETTO GODS. This record is so sonically diverse; it is also lyrically sophisticated and relevant. Earthgang pushed themselves farther musically than they ever have before on this records. GHETTO GODS highlights so many styles of Hip Hop, ranging from Jazz-based to R&B-based to horrorcore-based to Funk-based to even Reggae-based. Lyrically, the record goes back and forth between serious and light-hearted, creating a cool variance throughout the record that keeps the listener engaged. GHETTO GODS is the best and most complete work Earthgang has put out up until this point, as it shows off their many talents in pretty much every way possible.