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Earthgang Speak On Being Organic & Vulnerable Through Music

Photography by Alex "Grizz" Loucas

Earthgang is a widely respected alternative rap duo that has consistently made an impact in the music industry for a few years now. Hailing from Atlanta, Olu (aka Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot) have produced multiple projects and developed a name in the industry as one of the most genre-blending crews in music. Touring with the likes of Mac Miller, Billie Eilish, and J. Cole, Earthgang also brings great energy to the stage with amazing live performances.

Earthgang has recently gone from strength to strength since the release of the popular movie 'Queen & Slim' as their song for the soundtrack Collide gained mass appeal with the film audience and grew the groups' notoriety outside of the Dreamville collective. Earthgang recently spoke to us via Beat 103.6 on presenter Basak Erten's show "The Social", on every Sunday 12-2pm.

Basak: First off, I want to know for our listeners in the UK who may not be as familiar- could you just describe yourselves for me? And your sound? Because I think for a lot of men specifically black men in society, they are not always pushed that way.

Olu: As a group we are free sounding artists, we don't try to subscribe to anyone's ideas of what music is supposed to be. We follow what feels right.

Basak: When I think of you guys, the one thing that comes to mind for me is your originality as artists - I mean you guys have been in the game for over 10 years now.

Given that you guys have put in this much work, did you always feel like the success would then always come? Or did it come in a different kind of shape for you?

Olu: I felt like it would always come, you gotta have that mindset. When you dedicate your life and your time to something- you gotta have that mindset. It’s going to come. You just can't get caught up on looking at somebody else's success and think that now yours is supposed to show up.

Basak: Timing is every single thing!

Olu: Timing is everything. You gotta build everything, brick by brick- you know what I'm saying? Overnight successes happen in 10 years. Everybody thinks overnight successes happen like that but they really be grinding for 10 plus years.

Basak: I love that! Beautiful. Now, obviously you guys are a part of J Cole’s Dreamville label. I have to ask - this is for the culture - How did those Revenge of the Dreamer sessions really go? Because I have heard so much. What was the energy like in that room at that time?

WowGr8: It was just a bunch of people - and it wasn't just a room. It was the building. It was like several rooms. Bunch of people running around from room to room to room. Just hopping on each other's music.

If you weren't used to being in a studio environment and that was your first time ever going to the studio - you’d think that shit was chaotic or crazy.

Everybody coming in different styles, bringing their recipes and we always coming up together.

Olu: One of the guys singing on the breakdown part, Ant Clemons, we met him [at those sessions]. I didn't even know who he was. He was just in the room, working on a record.

I was like ‘he’s fire bro’ and after the record, that's when we exchanged information.

That's how a lot of the stuff was like for the Dreamville sessions. You would just get in a room and dragged into the energy before the ‘who are you?’ or who you’re ‘affiliated’ with.

It was just about your connection to the music and how we were vibin’.

Basak: And I love that energy was so organic, because such beautiful things can come from that, everytime. For your debut album ‘Mirrorland’, was it a conscious decision, because you guys had done those sessions, to move away from the Dreamville cohort a little bit because I noticed none of them were on that project?

Olu: I think it was conscious. We know we’ve been working with these people, our friends, on records [previously].

It was like, this is our debut album, we want to give our fans, our sound and show them what we can do, and it turned out beautifully.

All of our Dreamville people supported it because we’re all fans of each other's music.

Basak: It's so beautiful that you're fans of each other's music first and foremost outside of being label mates. On that point, what is the creative process for you both individually?

WowGr8: I don't think I wrote a verse down all year. I just been saying stuff from my heart and it's been translating a little better.

Basak: Is it because you care less about the perception and its more about what's in your heart and soul?

WowGr8: I definitely care less about the perception, you hit that right - I never thought that until you just said that. I just think about how I look at art in general and I sure don't interpret it as the artist intended and that's fine, I don't think anybody will interpret mine as I intended and that's fine but they get enjoyment from what's in front of you.

Basak: I know that you guys are very vulnerable in your music and that comes across beautifully but do you feel like that's always been natural to you?

Olu: It's natural - but the thing we are learning - black people for sure- the world in general is learning how to unlearn the things that society taught us. What we’re discovering about ourselves, the vulnerability was already there in the first place.

It was just over the past years, we been built up and built up and taught this is not how we’re supposed to approach it, not how we’re supposed to be. As a man and as a black man, I'm going to let y’all know that it's natural to be in tune with yourself, be in tune with how you're feeling. Let that go from there and be authentic and be real with everybody you come into contact with.

Basak: In a 2018 interview, you guys were quoted as saying, ‘every conversation is potential material,everything you see when you open your eyes is potential material’. Do you ever feel like that is your leading philosophy as artists?

WowGr8: I allow things to happen organically but I do have a history of going out to get material.

I’ve done a lot of crazy things and that turned into a record and then maybe after having that once or twice early on, maybe doing things subconsciously to generate certain feelings.

B: Do you want to share?

WowGr8: I got stories for days, I ain't got nothing to hide. What you wanna know?

We've been on tour for the past five years so we've been living like Motley Crue, breaking tvs in hotels.

It generates these experiences - when you put it out on a record and somebody comes to you saying ‘I was dealing with a woman like that too, I was breaking TV’s in hotels too’. You don’t know what's going to be the connector.

B: What is next for you? Do you have any exclusives you can give us?

Olu: Yeah we are releasing our next song from the Spillage Village project in a few weeks and we got some videos coming up. Spillage coming today. We also just dropped Baptize and the video for it!

Listen to the new Spillage Village project here

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