A very cinematically musical trip and experience out of this planet and realm. That’s a true genre-defying piece of art that takes you on a journey though Atlanta, it’s rich musical history and the under represented Westside underbelly of the city that raised them. EARTHGANG’s third album and major label debut with Dreamville/Interscope Records, Mirrorland, is all of those things and more.
It’s a very colorful, trippy and creatively brilliant album that fans of the group waited long for and was well worth it for. As the duo of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot deliver a very timeless masterpiece album that’s not only one of the best Hip-Hop albums of the year, but across all music period.
Engaging listeners from the opening track, LaLa Challenge, to the last track, Wings, EARTHGANG oozes a soulful, different, innovative, exquisite and cinematically rich sound throughout all 14 tracks that make you believe you’re watching a movie or listening to a movie soundtrack. Like you’re in another world, planet or realm you get swept away to while listening. A very colorful, dangerous and trippy, yet beautifully unique one, like what you hear on the Johnny Venus and Lido-produced, LaLa Challenge. Which is one of those take it to the next level type tracks that is easily not only one of the best intro tracks you will ever hear, but among the best tracks you will hear, period. Really helping set the very high bar and tone for the album. Which continues on the very energetic and powerfully amazing masterpiece single, UP. That finds the duo so intensely trying to match each other, from the lyrics to the singing, rapping and choirs in the back. As they rap about the dark Atlanta street life they had to grow up in and stress about, while also trying to keep their sanity on the way up to the top. Making the darker and more voodoo esques VOU & Edsclusive-produced backdrop perfect for doing so.
If you thought the first two tracks of the album were great. Then boy are you in for a treat by the time you reach the very infectious and upbeat Childish Major-produced banger, Top Down. Which is easily one of the top two or three tracks on the album and finds the duo gleefully rapping about running away from the cops and riding carefree throughout the city. While referencing everything from Beyoncé to Frank Ocean and Ben-10 in their verses. They complete what’s easily one of the best three track sequences to open an album ever period.
A strong point of EARTHGANG through the album as evident on tracks like, Proud of U and This Side, is their ear for soulfully catchy melodies and hooks. The really catchy hook on the Young Thug featured standout, Proud of U, as catchy as somebody with seasonal allergies catching a cold from the change in the seasons. The very upbeat record that finds all three professing their gratitude and pride for what all the women in their lives have provided each of them, is one that would make any mother or motherly like figure, proud. While the very minimal beautiful bass instrumental of Natra Average before switching to a high energy breakdown about midway through, This Side, is arguably the best track on the whole album. That finds the Atlanta duo getting really introspective about their paranoia and how fame makes them think about the unexpected other side of it with deaths to the likes of Nipsey Hu$$le and Rick James, as well as XXXTentacion. While they still enjoy all the love and fun, that one would in, “This Side” or the real world. The way they both snap so hard after the beat switch is icing on the cake too.
Beat switches and skits being another strong point throughout the album. Whether it be the aforementioned, This Side or the Groove and Christo co-produced, Trippin. A very sexy trap infused record that features multi-talented R&B/Pop/Soul artist Kehlani. With Kehlani adding the perfect touch from the female perspective of a record that explores commitment issues one goes through in a relationship. The beautiful jazzy overtones also making it a record that gives you those classic 90’s and early 2000’s R&B vibes. Which will have somebody getting pregnant. The unexpectedly funky and almost neo-soul vibes on the Antydote-produced, Blue Moon. A true gem and standout that from the lyrics to the production and flow, is just so dang beautiful.
At its core, Mirrorland, is a really unique, soulful and cinematic musical experience that really transfers you (the listener) into a different dimension. That’s also very captivating and unusual, while also showing the very diverse, rich and constantly evolving, as well as shifting sounds of Atlanta that helped shape EARTHGANG into who they’re. Which is what makes the album so great and like a cinematic masterpiece in audio form. The very Latin flavored, Elite-produced, Tequila, that features T-Pain and the final three track closing sequence of the album, showing it the most. With Tequila, which has a very beautifully flipped sample of The Budos Band’s classic, Nature’s Wrath, sounding like a record that could easily be featured in a James Bond or other big cinematic movie. Especially with the way they use the guitar and horns on the production to help the duo, along with T-Pain rap about how they ease the stresses of life with a glass of Tequila. While the very soulful Elite, Brian Malik Baptiste and DJ Khalil-produced, Stuck, is a really beautiful genre-bending record about showing remorse for figures they had a deep attachment to. With Arin Ray adding the perfect closing touch bridge before Johnny closes out with the very catchy chorus. The very triumphant horns and interlude on the Rahki and Ron Gilmore-produced, Fields, sounding like it easily could’ve fit into Outkast’s Idlewild film or soundtrack. Johnny Venus verse and flow really going in, while the refrain from Malik is nothing but the truth about knowing why you are truly out the road for.
Speaking of the inevitable Outkast comparisons they couldn’t avoid, the closing track, Wings, with it’s very soulful and jazzy like Andre Harris and D.K. the Punisher-produced backdrop. Really lets Olu and WowGr8 spread their wings to show that even though they may get compared to many other Atlanta greats before them, who obviously influenced them. They are still their own great uniquely weird, odd and creative group that’s bringing a new Atlanta sound of their own that will be remembered decades and centuries from now. With the very inspiring lyrics and great melodies on, Wings, just the type of perfectly inspiring and motivational art to help others get through tough times they need to. That’s why this is such a classic and timeless masterpiece album that will be remembered for decades and centuries to come as well. With this just the beginning stages of what has the makings of a truly legendary and remarkable career for the very talented Atlanta duo.