Despite the internet crumbling the borders between hip-hop and nearly every other genre, thus vastly altering the hip-hop landscape, Atlanta has remained the stable frontrunner of emerging talent every year. Some might associate Atlanta exclusively with the trap music that dominates much of the radio waves, but the sounds leaving the city are as varied as the genre itself.
One act that has toiled in the underground for years, only to recently begin to find some traction in the game, is duo EARTHGANG, consisting of rappers Johnny Venus, aka Olu, and WowGr8, aka Doctur Dot. The pair began their careers as a part of Spillage Village, a collective formed at Hampton University in Virginia, and made up of members from Atlanta and Baltimore. Ever since, they have hooked up with many artists, created several projects, and then finally released their major label debut last year in 2019 with Mirrorland. The duo and friends went on tour, stopping all throughout the country, and ending up in Brooklyn, NY, at Warsaw on February 13.
Before EARTHGANG could grace the stage however, there were three listed openers. The first to perform was fellow Spillage Village member and Baltimore native Jurdan Bryant. Spitting socially conscious bars over somewhat jazzy boom-bap type beats, Bryant fit well into the bill of the evening. He engaged the audience in his performing, several times jumping into the pit to get a closer interaction with them. The set was very short, but managed to get the heads bobbing in the crowd, and warm them up for what was next.
Second to perform was Portland, Oregon native Wynne. Decked out in a racecar shirt and Winnie-the-Pooh pants, she wasted no time in demonstrating to the audience that she is to be taken seriously. She puts on an energetic show, all the while displaying some impressively dexterous flows. The audience seemed to appreciate whenever her rapping picked up speed, and it only took a song or two to win over most of the audience. Much of the crowd had filled out by this point, and the 15-minute set entertained them throughout.
The final opener of the night was Chicago-based, Alabama-born Mick Jenkins. Much of the audience was clearly familiar with Jenkins, as they were able to sing along to many of the hooks of his best known songs, such as “‘Carefree’ Black Boy.” Jenkins’s more laid back approach to performance matched his music well, and did not bring the energy of the audience down, but rather shifted it. The audience understood Jenkins’ low-key yet confident demeanor. A longer set than the other openers, Mick had the chance to dig back into his somewhat deep discography, which many fans in the audience seemed to appreciate.
Finally, with all the openers having warmed the audience up, it was time for EARTHGANG. Before the duo took the stage, however, a video played on a screen on stage. The video consisted of the two group members encouraging the audience to make sure they are registered to vote, and directing them to several areas in the venue where people could register. After a few quick songs from EARTHGANG’s DJ, the two finally graced the audience with their presence.
The outfits that EARTHGANG wore were beautiful, and frankly not worth describing in words when there are pictures available. Olu’s intricate top did not stay on long, but still managed to make a statement. What transpired from here was nothing less than a fantastical party hosted by EARTHGANG. Aided by ever shifting digital visuals behind them, the duo performed their hearts out each song. Between most songs, they also took the time to address the audience, speaking to them, interacting with them, and generally hyping them up. Their long set list entertained the audience for a lengthy performance, and went through several eras of EARTHGANG in the process.
What EARTHGANG is doing is making good music backed up by solid fundamentals, and apparently having a great time while doing it. The pure joy at an EARTHGANG show is palpable. So much energy goes into the performance that it’s hard not to enjoy the experience. EARTHGANG has created a great live experience that matches the energy of their music.