Earthgang ‘Mirrorland’ Album Review


EARTHGANG, the Atlanta rap duo of Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot), has finally dropped their debut LP Mirrorland September 6th. This will be EARTHGANG’s third studio project and their first under J. Cole’s label Dreamville Records. In anticipation of the LP, EARTHGANG had released singles like “UP”, “Stuck” Feat. Arin Ray, “Proud of U” Feat. Young Thug, and finally “Swivel”, which was first released on the collaborative LP Revenge of the Dreamers III in July 2019. But having announced the name of the LP back in 2017, fans have been patiently waiting for what the gang’s full LP had to offer. 

Mirrorland is 14 songs long and has a running time of about 55 minutes. A little longer than your usual LP, but regardless of length, it is definitely worth a full listen. The makeup of the LP has a perfect balance of hip hop, funk, and soul without losing its cohesiveness. Starting off slow, the gang brings the listener on a colorful, dangerous, and trippy ride unlike any other. As Johnny Venus puts it, “People of the land, won’t you take my hand?”, as he and Doctur Dot lead you through the world that is Mirrorland

EARTHGANG starts the LP with its first song “LaLa Challenge”, which helps showcase the musical talent, lyrical ability, and energy that these two bring to a track. Johnny Venus welcomes the listener as he begins the LP with an air of mystery and fascination. Accompanied by bluesy piano, a slow but steady harmonica, and tasteful kicks, this song provides a mellow introduction to the LP. Doctur Dot slightly brings up the energy of the track as the gang sets up for the second half; To which you quickly realize the reason why the track is called “LaLa Challenge”. This same energy is transferred over into the LP’s second song, “UP”.

In this song, the duo not only expresses the extent of their hard work and how they are only going “UP” from here; They also look to not pigeonhole themselves as average rappers. This is reflected in Johnny’s rapping, a style that varies from singing to a variety of different flows. “Top Down” lets up on the gas as Venus and Dot enjoy their time “floatin’ through the city” while on the run from the deputy. An upbeat banger, the duo has fun making references to things like Beyonce’s “Halo”, Ben-10’s Omnitrix, and Shakespeare’s Othello.

“Bank” allows Both Johnny and Doctur to take a jab at all their peers in the rap game. EARTHGANG has been grinding for over 10 years, and “Bank” acts as a testament to their persistence and longevity. On the song “Proud of U”, EARTHGANG and Young Thug honor the strong women in their lives that have continued to show their love and support through thick and thin. As EARTHGANG explains through twitter, “We made this song to honor the people in our lives… More specifically the women in our lives (Mothers, Sisters, Cousins, Lovers, Aunts, etc.)…”.
“This Side” lets us in on EARTHGANG paranoia, as Johnny references the abrupt deaths of Nipsey Hussle and XXXTentacion. Fortune and fame paint a target on their backs, but as Johnny says, “…if it pleases God, I hope the shooter aim best”. “Swivel” emphasizes how they keep a constant watch for, “Trouble lurkin’ ‘round the corner” as they grow in fame and fortune. “Avenue” has the same effect that “This Side” and “Swivel” have, staying on a constant grind in order to live on and prosper.

“Tequila” is a Latin track that explains how life’s stresses can melt away after a nice glass of, well, Tequila. The strong presence of the brass section strengthens the chorus and makes the track enjoyable to listen to. T-Pain’s voice fits “Tequila” so well, it makes me wish that he had a slightly longer verse despite the wordplay and energy he brings to the song already. The next four songs serve as the outro to the LP, as they progressively get slower until “Wings” wraps up the journey through “Mirrorland”.

“Trippin” Feat. Kehlani, “Stuck” Feat. Arin Ray, and “Fields” Feat. Malik, are all great songs that are worth listening to. “Trippin” provides a slower, mellow, but bumping track with a strong verse from Kehlani. “Stuck” reveals more of the funky side of EARTHGANG with a groovy bassline. “Fields” brings back the brass that adds more “oomph” to the kicks and character to the hats, a unique song that I can see myself coming back to in the future. 

Overall, EARTHGANG’s LP, “Mirrorland”, is something to behold when it comes to the creativity and variety that it brings in only an hour’s time. Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot bring a breath of fresh air with their presence in the music industry, and I look forward to seeing what else they’ve got in store for future projects.