Review: Mirrorland album by EarthGang


With their 2019 album Mirrorland, Atlanta-based rap duo Earthgang showcase their unique sound, style and flow through funky beats and the utilization of different genres. Mirrorland was inspired by “The Wiz”, the all-black 1978 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz

J Cole, the founder of Dreamville Records and all-time Hip-Hop great, was the main producer of this album, giving Mirrorland a great overall sound. Earthgang signed to Dreamville Records in early 2017, and have since released four projects. Earthgang was also included on the label’s popular 2019 Compilation Album “Revenge of the Dreamers 3,” where they were featured in 5 songs. These features helped showcase the duos talent and overall sound which has lead to me becoming a big fan.

Atlanta Hip-Hop is headlined by well-known artists such as André 3000, Big Boi, 21 Savage, Young Thug and many more. Another well-known product of Atlanta Hip-Hop is duo Outkast, best known for songs “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya!”. Just like Earthgang, OutKast was a Hip-Hop duo originating in east Atlanta. I genuinely believe that if Earthgang can put out a few classic albums and hit songs, they can reach Outkast-level notoriety.

A duo since high school, members Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot have clear chemistry which allows for a good flow into one another’s verses. Earthgang released their first project “Shallow Graves For Toys” in July 2013, and since then, their sound has changed tremendously. With their first project, consisting of 14 songs totaling up to over an hour of music, Earthgang raps mostly of things they wished they had, like money, cars, houses, everything rappers say they have. The overall sound of this debut project is angry, which is cool if you do it once, but when you try to recreate that, fans see right through it. This is the sound of two guys trying to put their foot in the door. 

A consistent topic for their music is their struggle growing up on the eastside of Atlanta. This is especially prevalent in their 2015 EP, and the second project, Torba. This 7 track EP consists of a song titled for and regarding each day of the week. Earthgang is definitely in a different point in their lives as Mirrorland shows a turning point for their careers, clearly shown by their lyrics, and overall sound. 

With “Mirrorland,” Earthgang uses their talents to blend Southern Hip-Hop, Trap, Funk and Soul all into one album. Although Earthgang can definitely do better, this album is a good stepping stone for their future success. Lyrically, this album was not wholly fulfilling, but the sound and overall mood it presents makes up for it. The album’s first song “LaLa Challenge” is a highly soulful trap effort with a certain artistic vibe that encompasses the whole theme for the next thirteen songs— a great choice for a “Leadoff” track. 

Maintaining confidence is the overall theme of song number two, “UP” with lyrics like “I say who lives, I say who dies,” “I’ve arrived, feelin’ on a high, flexin’ in the sky” and the main focus for the song, “You thought I was down? No, no, no, yeah I’m up”. Boasting this newfound confidence, the duo has gained from their recent successes, is an overall theme for Mirrorland and especially prevalent on this track. Earthgang continues their confidence run on song number three “Top Down”, a song purely based on fun and floatin’ through the city with the top down. I love this song for many reasons, but mostly because of its “soul-ified” chorus, thunderous beat, and overall good vibe. This song perfectly amplifies heart-spilling vocals and helps spread the theme of confidence to the next song, “Bank”. This track, like “Top Down”, contains an infectious beat and flow that makes you want to turn the volume to max and sing along. 

For tracks five and six, Earthgang quickly transitions from upbeat to more of an emotional feel with “Proud Of U” and “This Side”. I wouldn’t say that these songs are sad as much as they are sentimental. “Proud Of U” is a moderately paced ballad featuring Atlanta born and raised rapper Young Thug. This song details Earthgang’s rise to the top and how they feel now that they have made it. Having Young Thug on this track is just the cherry on top with Thugger and Venus fusing vocals for the chorus to create pure bliss. Thug uses his verse to congratulate his fellow Atlantians on their success while flexing his own prosperity. Thug takes on the outro by simply repeating “I’m proud of you” in his own melodic way, which had its own calming element to it. Transitioning to track number 6, “This Side” quickly changes the album mood with a quiet introspective song exploring death and paranoia. From its start to its finish, this is both an intense and refreshing song with its slow beat and emotionally moving lyrics.

The album finishes with a mixture of sounds including southern soul, emotion, and constant interludes. From this selection, I really like “Tequila”, for its southern feel and relaxing vibe. Overall, the backside of this album is a bit of a let down for me, maybe this is just because of how good the first half was, but I just did not find these last few songs all that enjoyable. The one song I was particularly disappointed with is “Wings”. This is because of how much I loved the chorus, and how infectious it is. The way Venus delivers the chorus is nothing short of magical, but each member’s verses don’t compare in the slightest. Without keeping on the theme of spreading their wings, Venus and Doctur Dot drop boring verses that don’t align with the main focus for the song.

The silver lining of this album’s poor finish is that this über talented duo only has one place to go, and that is up. Overall, I enjoyed this project because of its originality, mixing of genres, and the duo’s chemistry. If you like Hip-Hop, R&B, or just need new music, I would definitely check out Mirrorland.