Underground hip-hop duo EarthGang has finally emerged from the indie circuit with their recent signing to J-Cole’s Dreamville label.
Composed of emcees Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, the group formed in 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia, releasing their first EP, The Better Party, in 2010.
Their first release on the new label, an EP entitled Rags, reflects on their rise from pushing their product on the streets of Atlanta and celebrates the strides that the pair has made during their young career.
The first of five tracks, “Meditate (feat. J.I.D),” immediately sucks you in with a trance-inducing vocal sample and straightforward drum line. Then the lyrics hit you like a bullet train. The first two verses pretty much sound like J.I.D and Johnny Venus blacked out on the mic. Then the hook comes in as a simple repetition of “Lookin for peace in America/Lookin for peace when I stay at ya.”
Doctor Dot closes things out the same way they were brought in, with a varied flow that, when coupled with the production, demand your attention. It’s easily my favorite track on the project.
Given the provocative lyrics and hook, it seems like “Meditate,” (despite being named for the producers fondness for meditation) sounds more like a meditation on EarthGang’s position in society. Don’t believe me? Peep the music video.
Next up on Rags is “Nowhere Fast (feat. Childish Major).” The slow, eponymous hook does a nice job of complimenting the title and the lyrics within the verses paint the picture of a young rap collective struggling on the come up. This is the first truly reflective track on the project and the tension within the sample does a fantastic job relaying the uncertainty inherent in being a young adult figuring out a path for themselves.
Tracks three and four, “Red Light” and “Legendari” respectively, bring the excitement levels back up.
The samples on both are energetic and driving while the lyrics ride the beats well and complement their energy. “Red Light” is Rags’ mandatory call out song. The verses deal with the doubt EarthGang faced on their come up “Guess they had to use a different tone ’cause of who the kids gon’ listen to/When they mama love to diss ’em too/When they daddy did a bid or two.”
The hook makes the meaning of the song clear because EarthGang makes sure to let you know that “Oh, they knocking with me/Oh, they rocking with me.”
EarthGang seems like they’re trying to hype themselves up with, “Legendari,” the next track. It rides an especially driving sample and the hook “Pick up the pace, pick up the pace, pick up the pace, pick up the pace/Pick it up/Pick up your face, pick up your face, pick up your face, pick up your face/Pick it up” removes any doubt as to the message they’re trying to get across in the track.
The final song on the project features another up and coming southern rapper, Mick Jenkins. “House” is a mellow track that still manages to immediately grab your attention with a funky bass intro.
This is far and away the most reflective track, probably best represented by the lines “We was thinking out the box so whatever/Now them hoes that was tryna dog us, tryna faux with us.”
Rags as a whole perfectly captures what EarthGang must be feeling after signing to a new label.
“Meditate” clues you in to why they were signed, “Nowhere Fast” deals with the struggles they have faced, and “Red Light” and “Legendari” express their newfound excitement and drive.
Wrapping up with a track as reflective as “House” drives the autobiographical nature of the project home.