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RECORD REVIEW: EarthGang's 'Rags'

Spillage Village MCs operate outside the super-machismo of Atlanta trap

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Photo credit: Courtesy Spillage Village
EarthGang: 'Rags' EP

It's been a big year for Spillage Village, the Atlanta based hip-hop collective featuring the likes of Southern lyricists J.I.D and EarthGang, who prioritize bars over style. Having built a strong connection with J.Cole's Dreamville Records, and following J.I.D's The Never Story, EarthGang recently dropped the Rags EP. Whereas The Never Story features J.I.D's humor as a keynote within his bars, EarthGang speaks with an unrelenting seriousness, leaving the humor to rapper DC Young Fly's between song banter.

Rather than providing an outwardly raised fist to the system of politics and oppression that are all too familiar to black men growing up in the city, EarthGang's Johnny "Olu O. Fann" Venus and Doctur "Eian Undrai Parker" Dot alternatively pen an even-keeled reflection of black life in America. In the Childish Major-assisted "Nowhere Fast" Dot underscores the song's sentiments when he states: "Unfortunately, I'm more nigga than citizen."

"Nowhere Fast" serves as what makes EarthGang and Spillage Village standout within the context of new Atlanta hip-hop. Both Venus and Dot, along with J.I.D operate outside the super-machismo of Atlanta trappers like YFN Lucci, more closely affiliating with the vulnerability of frequent collaborator 6lack. In the song, Venus relives unwillingly picking up a phone call from his father, saying "I hope he pick up the love inside my inflections, because lately life done got my spirit on a bench press."

In times past, EarthGang would have been billed as obscure due to their affinity for jazz-laced instrumentals and peculiar vocal inflections. Yet, with the rise of the Brainfeeder/West Coast Get Down influence coming into view, hip-hop acts like EarthGang and Mick Jenkins, the Chicago-based MC featured on "House," are as normal as ever.

Though not as streamlined for a think-piece as the genre melding production, and the gothic and emo influences of Lil Peep or Ghostemane, Venus, Dot and J.I.D are pushing progression within the stale infrastructure of traditional hip-hop.

It's easy to operate on the fringes of an establishment, it's much more difficult to break the rules while keeping it within the framework. ★★★★☆



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