Earthgang is Atlanta’s newest humble offering to the ever-growing genre of “conscious rap.” When I first heard them in my friend’s apartment, we played the video for” Missed Calls,” a song off of their album Strays with Rabies. I recall being shocked at how well done the song and video were and immediately looking them up and downloading all of their music.
The duo, Doctor Dot & Johnny Venus, have released three full-length albums and more recently two EP’s titled Rags and Robots, respectively.
They had been consistently laying down bars for years (and years) with little mainstream recognition; however, they were recently signed to J Cole’s Dreamville records—a step in the right direction for Cole’s creative vision. One of the duo’s strengths is storytelling, which is apparent given their knack for creating real albums. Every project released by Earthgang is cohesive; pulling the listener in with storylines, vivid imagery, and some of the most intricate, unique rapping styles of this generation.
The Rags EP begins with the haunting instrumental on “Meditate” coupled with a dense verse by J.I.D. and Earthgang’s bone-chilling lyrics. This particular song brings the duo to the heart of conscious rap by directly referencing the dark state of American politics, something often discussed by Earthgang but rarely called by name.
The video for this song is like a feature-length documentary, but the most striking scene is Johnny Venus rapping while swinging from an American flag turned noose. It is a need to watch video.
The EP then swiftly takes a lighter turn back to the duo’s niche with some skits, trap beats, and robust features from Childish Major and Mick Jenkins. The best thing about this EP is that no matter what beat the two are thrown into it always sounds like they spent weeks perfecting it with airtight lyrics. Even faster trap beats are filled to the brim (and I mean filled) with their quick, raspy, and sonically unique lyricism.
The Robots EP starts with a skit and quickly falls into the first track, ”Artificial,” an ode to the EP’s questioning of consciousness and emotion, hence “Robots.” The title track in all-caps has a clunky machine-like sound that makes the listener feel like they’re in a creepy factory surrounded by artificial intelligence. The duo comes in with some singing, but mostly they’re spitting bars, and with machine-like precision. The next track has a strong feature from TDE’s SiR on a three-minute beat that bridges the gap between the EP’s bangers and vibe-ers. The last songs are beautiful R&B/rap runoff that would easily get lost and left behind during a night out, but rediscovered at the end of a playlist after coming home and plopping on the couch.
While the success of the album rests on the simplicity of its fantastic sound, the rappers are writing for those who read more in-depth into the lyrics. Robots is a journey to and from consciousness with more meaning and rhythm in its six tracks than the last albums I’ve heard put together. Every track is completely oversaturated with lyrical depth and gritty rapping which makes Earthgang so playable; you always find something new and beautiful in their verses that easily could have been lost in the mix.
Their upcoming EP Royalty drops February 16.