EarthGang, rappers in skirts who promote the benefits of yoga
Nominated for the 2021 Grammy Awards in the best R’n’B song category, the duo EarthGang is set to conquer America. The Atlanta-born musicians have also founded a collective, Spillage Village, which brings together the most promising faces of hip-hop. Turning their backs on bling-bling rap, they flaunt themselves in skirts, practice yoga and advocate tolerance and openness.
Nominated for the 2021 Grammy Awards in the best R’n’B song category, the duo EarthGang is set to conquer America. In addition to multiplying ambitious projects with their group, the two thirty-something from Atlanta have founded a collective, Spillage Village, which brings together the most promising faces of hip-hop, and whose fourth album, Spilligion, was released in September 2020 on Dreamville Records, the label of J. Cole, Jay-Z’s former protégé.
In Atlanta, Olu and WowGr8 are not necessarily the most feared, the most bling-bling, nor the most commercial. Unlike the majority of rappers from the hip-hop capital of the United States, the members of the EarthGang duo did not go through prison, do not sit at the top of the charts for weeks, and still fly below the radar, just enough to stay cool, a bit underground and far removed from the mainstream. Instead of showing off, in their clips or on Instagram, behind the wheel of big cars, surrounded by almost naked groupies and with flashy jewelry that they wear around their necks as well as on their teeth, Johnny Venus and Eian Parker prefer to share their fitness and yoga sessions, protest against pro-Trump deviations and quote in their texts their favorite rapper, MF DOOM [sur le titre End of Daze, dans l’album Spilligion]. Like the Briton who died on October 31, who had made his mask his signature, the two Americans also found an adornment that made them recognizable among a thousand: their eccentricity.
EARTHGANG – “Meditate” ft. J.I.D.
In one of their two Colors sessions [plateforme musicale berlinoise où les artistes sont filmés dans un cube de couleur qui recrée une session studio], produced for the promotion of their third studio album, Mirrorland (2019), Olu and WowGr8 interpret their title This Side. On a purple background, those who called themselves EarthGang out of a desire to “connect people” appear, in turn, without decoration, in alluring outfits where no detail is left to chance. Spider-shaped earring hanging from the left lobe, ethnic necklace, shirt printed with the patterns of a Gauguin painting … WowGr8 is the mystical half, the quiet strength of the tandem. The other is whimsical but not sassy: like a dervish of the Atlanta neighborhoods, Olu appears turbaned, wearing a white petticoat so loose that it looks like a crinoline: “It was important for me to show myself in a skirt: men wear them all the time in certain cultures, such as kilts in Scotland, lavalavas in Polynesia or kangas in Africa.
You never see it in the United States, but I wanted people to understand that it can be something normal, and not exclusively female.”, He explains.
EarthGang – This Side | A COLORS SHOW
If we don’t see them yet, like their buddies Young Thug, Future or Gucci Mane, strutting in the front rows of the fashion shows of the biggest luxury houses, WowGr8 and especially Olu’s relationship with fashion has matured for a long time: “For us, style is about being innovative, shocking, defying standards, and above all taking a stand.”A way of expressing themselves without formal speaking that they also apply to their pieces, whether in the texts or in the melodies. A clever mix of eccentric rap à la OutKast, R’n’B, gospel and groovy sounds à la Donna Summer, the sound made in EarthGang is a melting pot of the best from around the world. Together from the start
from high school, the two young men want, through their productions, to express what they experienced growing up, what they experienced while traveling the world, and to pay tribute to their origins: “We are attached to the African tradition. When we go on tour we have the chance to reconnect with our culture and it shows in our music. But it’s the same wherever we go, from South Africa to New Zealand, and even staying in Atlanta … This city has influenced us in the same way it influences the world, be it in terms of style, language, music and even civil rights!”Says WowGr8, proud of his hometown, which he still considers very competitive. Bold musicians, the creators of the Spillage Village collective want to stand out. They like to collaborate with a lot of artists, as long as they are not rappers. The latter are rockers, like Brittany Howard, militant filmmakers, like Melina Matsoukas – the duo composed a track from the soundtrack of his road-movie committed to the African-American condition Queen and Slim (2019) – or unclassifiable, like Gorillaz. Because like his music, EarthGang’s spirit can take all forms and revolve around him the most cutting-edge influences of the moment.
Spilligion (Dreamville) from Spillage Village, JID and EarthGang, available.