“Mirrorland” is hip-hop duo EarthGang’s first major label album debut and it doesn’t disappoint. Often fans can become worried that their favorite artist will lack versatility and freedom when they first become signed to a label; however, EarthGang has never sounded so unstoppable since being signed to Dreamville. This could be that Dreamville consists of a lot of Atlanta based artists who break the mold when it comes to the nature of hip-hop.
EarthGang’s roots ascends throughout “Mirrorland” like a spaceship as their Atlanta accent articulates and blesses their lyrics with passion. EarthGang consist of MC’s Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot. They are bringing back duality within hip-hop, as their individuality is only strengthened and honored in the presence of one another. “Mirrorland” is about looking within, seeing the reflections of those who surround you and finding authenticity outside of all that noise.
EarthGang is one of the only duos in the hip-hop game today but this isn’t the only thing setting them apart from most rappers. Sonically, a New Orleans type of jazz and melancholy blues graces one another in kinship, just as the two rappers’ voices collide in unison. EarthGang also reveals in their supreme lyricism that the superficiality that can take up space in hip-hop is devoid of meaning to them.
On track “Bank” the beat is more chopped up and it follows the common rough trap aesthetic as they spit onto why they find the type of front other MC’s put on as nonthreatening to their different approach to music.
Doctur Dot raps: “You measure a man by they likes on the ‘gram, but how do he move under pressure? The difference between choosers and beggars. This TEC automatic, my life automatic. I’m tired of humans and errors. I turn you to Swiss for the cheddar. I do this s—t for my ancestors, like f—k your parameters. I push the boundaries.”
EarthGang pits many rappers’ priorities of fast cars, money and likes on social media against the intentions that informs their music. Doctur Dot speaks on how his incentive for making music is for a greater purpose, one that will honor his lineage and surpass the limitations put before him.
“Mirrorland” employs the metaphor of looking into the glass and seeking out what’s inside the soul versus your physicality being presented to you. Throughout the album, EarthGang questions the conviction of others, the obsession of the ego and the need to be constantly seeking validation from others. With their rising fame, EarthGang makes it clear that truth is their desire and the change they wish to see in the world.
On track “Avenue,” the beat is ominous and haunting as Johnny Venus’ flow is so alive, it’s as if he is trying to wake the dead. He raps, “F—k the riches, sell your soul. Fake persona if it gets you what you wanna, get behind the fattest donk or have these women on your trunk. Have your ego high as a chimpanzee in space, out of orbit, out of place. I see coward where you stand, ghetto zombies in a trance. I been hating on white folks for hating us.”
Venus exposes the hypocrisy of the very fact that money, fame and flashy objects are supposed to ooze confidence and happiness — yet in reality this reveals deeper insecurities and a lack of genuine satisfaction with life. EarthGang wants to use their platform, the power behind their words to talk about larger issues that impact the very essence of life.
Their priorities lie in bringing awareness to spiritual transcendence, racism and corruption within society as opposed to monetary gains. On track “UP,” they hint that their community in Atlanta is what keeps them grounded from the toxicity that can come along with success. EarthGang’s energy on this track is contagious as their flow integrates the drums ignited in the background of the charged beat.
The duo both switches effortlessly from spitting with velocity and wailing melodies out as if it’s a declaration to the vast sky. Venus sings, “Just another day in these filthy, sweet Atlanta streets. Can’t come through these apartments unless you cool, unless you know who’s who. See, I go loco for my freedom. No fear, no shame, matter fact — let’s get this straight. See, triumph comes from dying. Some enjoy come from crying, sometimes healing comes from killing.”
Venus touches on the fact that the very community in Atlanta that was filled with violence and pain also acted as a refuge for them. Atlanta gave them their own sense of safety, their sense of self. Atlanta forced them to recognize that their quirkiness and different perspectives is what sets them apart from others. Their undying commitment to truth and preaching originality is what makes EarthGang able to act as a mirror for other artists.
Their sound teeters on the edge of gospel and trap. EarthGang’s extension of identity is a devoted presence that pays homage to Southern black culture. The wrenching blues intertwine with euphoric trumpets to create a mirage of descendants from the greats who put the Dirty South on the map to begin with — OutKast and Goodie Mob reincarnated in the flesh.
“Mirrorland” has an important message at the forefront — put your most authentic self out into the world and make your mark. EarthGang digs their feet into the mud, leaves imprints of culture and morals buried in the sediment. They are not bound by the commonalities of others, but bound by the creative process that seeks meaning and understanding. “Mirrorland” will give you access to another world — a world indoctrinated by materialistic values, scoreboards or millions in the bank.
In an interview for Pitchfork, EarthGang unveiled that the inspiration behind “Mirrorland” was the “Wizard of Oz.” The Wiz gave them access to a whole new realm of existence and drew parallels with Atlanta.
Venus spoke on the commonalities he saw between the two: “It’s the same thing. Atlanta is the Land of Oz. It’s black people just being unafraid and unapologetically creative — just running around being themselves.”