Theatrical, powerful, meaningful, experimental, explosive, and bold, EARTHGANG are quite arguably the best hip-hop show in music right now.
Evan Dale // Feb 11, 2020
Right away, it was the crowd that differentiated this concert from the other hip-hop shows we had been to recently. Though only six months or so removed from catching their headlining set for Nashville’s Deep Tropics Music & Arts Festival Pre-Party, EARTHGANG had in the time passed, gone from up-and-coming big names respected by the hip-hop community to bona fide rock stars known by the masses. And that was owed to a few different things. Firstly, their label, Dreamville took not only the rap and R&B world by storm, but created a benchmark album, Revenge of the Dreamers lll, exhibiting the sheer force of collaboration and what it means to music. Secondly, their Dreamville debut, Mirrorland was released to critical and public acclaim, skyrocketing the duo’s popularity and introducing their zany outrageousness to the pop circuit. Thirdly, fourthly, and beyond, subsequent features outside of Revenge of the Dreamers, a handful of videos for both of their 2019 projects, documentaries, interviews, an inescapably entertaining social media presence, and a pair of tours brought the value of their music, fashion, performance, social outreach, and experimental artistry into the limelight.
By the time we caught them at Denver’s Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom at the beginning of February 2020, their crowd was a vivid etching of their reach; their scope. Young and old. 90’s hip-hop heads and SoundCloud youth. R&B fans, couples slow dancing, whirlpooling mosh pits. All brought under the banner of a duo from Atlanta quenching the outcasts of the world with music as powerful as their predicating legends.
And akin to their predecessors, perhaps the most stringent reasoning behind the diversity in the audiences they attract is built into their message. Though undeniably capable of darting their fanbase with bass-heavy bangers, even their ignorant mainstream tracks carry significance. Humbleness, family, roots, culture, individuality, and ultimate togetherness circumvent their music and their live performances. It’s the most high-energy hip-hop. It’s top-shelf vocal range. It’s quirky individuality. And it comes from two sources whose complementary strengths make them this generation’s most important, boundary-pushing hip-hop collaboration.
They storm the stage in tandem, emerging from behind the hall of mirrors carefully arranged on stage to a ballroom erupting in explosive applause and celebration. They feed off of that energy and each other’s. Two rappers with four names. Olu who is also Johnny Venus. WowGr8 who is also Doctur Dot. The complexity in their monikers is fitting for two artists whose wild experimentation and fluctuating sounds make them a joint force that should require at least four artists to manifest. And yet, they are two.
But as they return to in interim monologues time and time again throughout any given show, EARTHGANG is not a duo. EARTHGANG is everyone in the room; everyone that listens. It’s a family atmosphere and love comes first. Even the mosh pits are scenes of congruence, where shoving leads to hugging and where falling leads to everyone pausing, helping, and ultimately starting again. It’s hip-hop culture for all ages spearheaded by hip-hop music with no boundaries. EARTHGANG is truly for the children; truly for everyone.
The balance in their personalities is as stark and outlandish than the contrast in their hip-hop approach. Johnny Venus is the shredded, dreaded, Southern-twanged force of soulful falsettos and head-banging rap. Doctur Dot is the seemingly stoned, effortlessly delivering, punk rock screeching force of clever punchlines and million-miles-an-hour flow. Johnny Venus is high fashion and sunglass-sporting. Doctur Dot is 90’s reminiscent and experimentally street. Together, they do it all and between the two of them as artists and stage personalities, everyone listening has something to relate to, to look up to, and to strive for. And their years of collaborative work makes their live shows a seamless, perfected circus where everyone in the crowd is glued to what’s happening on stage while happily sharing it with one another.
Each song, both work every angle of the stage, giving every fan in the audience their own Doctur Dot show, their own Johnny Venus show, and their own EARTHGANG extravaganza. And between each track, monologues on self-love, hard-work, family, growth, and even the importance of registering to vote educate the crowd on the deeper meanings of EARTHGANG’s music and why they go about it the way that they do. An EARTHGANG show is meaningful hip-hop at the scope that it’s always been meant to be.
And that’s something hip-hop has been largely missing in the modern generation. It’s all angles; it’s all aspects of hip-hop culture rolled into one show. EARTHGANG are here for the fuckery and the hype, but they’re also here for the artistic, creative, personal messages and the inspiration of growth.
EARTHGANG – as can really be said for all of Dreamville – are a necessary presence in hip-hop pushing the boundaries of music while simultaneously pushing forward the culture they represent. And for a hip-hop duo with an audience as dynamic and diverse as the one EARTHGANG is able to draw to a small venue show in Denver, that culture is also bound by no frontiers. Naturally and subsequently, their shows are celebrations of boundless culture, of which hip-hop is the most vivid and inclusive.
Theatrical, powerful, meaningful, experimental, explosive, and bold, EARTHGANG are quite arguably the best hip-hop show in music right now. They are supreme when it comes to a balance between musicianship, showmanship, intimacy, and connection with their ever-expanding audience, and with each show, they get even stronger.