Photo Credit: Anthony Supreme
Rising rap duo EARTHGANG (Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot) continue their streak of tour dates as they conclude the second half of their Never Had Sh!t Tour with J.I.D. and Chaz French on the West Coast. The official 2018 half of the tour kicked off Feb. 1 and concludes March 3. EARTHGANG also announced their participation in the Rolling Loud Music Festival on May 13 where they will hit the stage alongside other Ones To Watch artists, Smino and Princess Nokia.
The duo’s latest release, Robots, is a six track EP of a three part project. Full of chill-hopping Atlanta attitude, Robots is the connector between RAGS and Royalty - their third release expected Feb. 16. Futuristic in nature, lyrically driven, and holistically reminiscent to life in down home ATL, the recent signees to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records are paying homage to their Southern roots through their intermixing of singsong rap on Robots. Like many artists, EARTHGANG plays on mixing past and present with gentle samples from Teena Marie (The Fugees), Drake, and Kanye West. With their lyrical wit, EARTHGANG is quickly gaining recognition as the new-era Outkast and we are certainly excited to hear what Royalty has in-store.
We had the opportunity to chat with the guys of EARTHGANG about their current tour, what’s next musically, and their must-haves for the road. Check out what they had to say, and who their Ones To Watch artists are, below:
OTW: 2018 kicks off with the 2nd round of the Never Had Sh!t Tour (previously touring in November of 2017), are you expecting a similar experience?
Venus: Yes, except for West Coast style. All of these shows have been straight crazy, wild pandemonium - lots of you know, teenagers, kids coming through who are sneaking weed in, getting high, smoking. This time it’s going to be real, out in the open.
Doc: More avocados. It’s the avocado tour.
OTW: Is there anything new that we can expect for these dates?
Venus: Yes, we’re going to be performing our third EP on these tours. That’s something the East Coast ain’t get. You guys are very lucky. So we dropping that new music, dropping the EP during the tour - so we’re definitely going to be performing songs from the EP for the tour.
OTW: So you’re dropping a new single from the EP?
Venus: Yes, “Nothing But The Best” featuring the amazing Ari Lennox. Luminary that Ari Lennox is.
OTW: Royalty is easily described as your most anticipated project yet - can you hint at what we can expect?
Venus: Yeah, you can expect everything that you should’ve expected.
Doc: Yeah, Royalty is like - let’s say Royalty is like the last phase of construction of a bridge, you know what I’m saying? RAGS and Robots was like the foundation that started the bridge and this is like the aesthetic part of the bridge that make it look like something you want to drive on. So we’re finishing up this bridge to Mirrorland, but Royalty is like the last piece of the puzzle. Once you play RAGS, Robots and Royalty together it’ll sound like a full project - it’ll make sense as to where we’re going next with the album later this year.
Venus: We’re taking you off. Come on let’s do it.
OTW: Can you explain the pattern for Royalty in relation to the artwork from RAGS and Robots?
Venus: Yes, most definitely. Got to continue the pattern of recognition. Got to continue the flow. We continuing the theme of Atlanta strip clubs because that’s a large part of the community of Atlanta. You see magic city, you see the animals, you see the women who have animal characteristics - some of them might claw you, some of them might eat you, you know. You see my man DC on flock, continuing the escort. You see us boogying down. You see Cole, the lion over there in his Dreamville, shorts and his Jordans.
OTW: You previously did a Spillage Village track with J. Cole, any plans of another collab with him?
Venus: We might have some stuff down the pipeline. We always working with our man. He’s a great guy. We’ve got records, we’ve got things that we’re still putting together and stuff. Who knows.
Doc: We’re such a family with all our Dreamville, Spill Vill family - it’s all real life. We’re gonna all hop on each other’s records. You never know whose session you gonna walk in on. Who knows when the record comes out - they come out when they come out. It’s like no limit over here.
OTW: What’s the experience like packing so many performances into one month?
Venus: It’s like a whirlwind adventure, it really is. It’s a complete marathon. Energy of just being an adrenaline rush that lasts for months. We’re going to be goin, goin, going, continually and constantly getting the energy from the fans and turning it right back around and giving it back to them. Everybody’s getting those shocks. Everybody’s just getting a full onslaught of energy and power every time. It goes till like 2-3 in the morning and we wake up again 8:30-9 o’clock, do some interviews, do some jogging. By the time 6 pm comes around it’s full on go-time. It’s like having a football game everyday.
OTW: I can imagine that’s exhausting.
Venus: It is, but I mean you got to make time to replenish yourself and then you got to make time to just enjoy it too as well. We have fun, we party, we perform, we rest, and then we do it all again the next day.
OTW: What’s one thing you have to take with you on the road?
Venus: Socks. And undies. You can never have too many undies and socks.
Doc: Headphones and an ink pen.
Venus: Oh yeah, definitely bring an ink pen and headphones. And a pad. You got to have those things.
OTW: Does that mean that inspiration is always striking?
Venus: Always. Always.
Doc: Always, you got to be.
Venus: It’s a beautiful thing. You always trust yourselves to write down your thoughts. A lot of people live they thoughts just out of exploding they brain or they just fleet away, fly away. But it’s a beautiful thing to continuously like jot those things down and be able to dive in and use that later on. It’s a representation of what other people are doing - whatever you’re doing.
OTW: So what is the process like for you songwriting?
Venus: Well for me personally, there really is no process. I go with the flow. I might wake up one morning and I want to just listen to music; I might not want to write. I might just want to take in and just experience what other people are putting in their music and then I’ll write a poem or something. I might not even write a verse, I’ll just write a poem for myself, to myself, about something. And some days I might just write in my journal just random thoughts over and over - just continue writing until I’ve kind of released whatever. And then some days I’ll go in, I’ll write a verse or I’ll look back through some random scribbles that I’ve put in, some dates back, and then be like ‘okay I like this sentence, I like this line. Let me take this and make this into a whole world, make this into a whole experience or create a story about this one little word right here.’ So that’s kind of what my experience is like.
Doc: It’s always having a process. Every conversation is potential material. Everything you see when you open your eyes is potential material. That’s why you’ve got to write stuff down. I don’t know how everybody’s brain works and I don’t know how some people’s memory does this or that and not even just memory - sometimes people just don’t care about what they’re thinking about, but I like to analyze myself. Even whether I remember or not - it’s a constant. It’s such an organic process. Every conversation and every observation goes into the writing process, so it’s happening when we talking right now.
OTW: There’s a sentence that I really liked out of your bio - “EarthGang would just as soon jam with the Arctic Monkeys and wake Frida Kahlo from her grave to do their cover art.” Can you explain that?
Doc: Frida Kahlo cover art would be crazy.
Venus: Yeah, you can just take inspiration from strangers on the street, from anybody - dogs on the street. One time, this is super random, but one time we was in LA and it was like 2 am in the morning and we were standing outside some random function about to get in. And we saw these two little - I think they were like Chihuahuas, they were just like miniature dogs, but they were tethered to each other. One’s leash was tethered to the other guy’s leash and they were just walking each other around the block. And that was like the wildest thing I’ve ever seen. It was like 3 am and they was just walking the block with each other. And I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ They were just kicking it! That blew my mind, it still blows my mind everyday. Like, are ya’ll seriously walking each other?
OTW: So did that spark anything creatively?
Venus: Oh, no. Maybe now. Once we get off this telephone I’m gonna write about this, about this conversation. I think about that all the time.
OTW: What are your favorite tracks to perform in front of a crowd?
Venus: I like to perform “Artificial.” I like to perform “F Bomb.” I like to perform “Missed Calls.” I’m really excited about performing these new songs from my EP. Definitely. Got a couple of ones that we haven’t mentioned yet, but they gonna be super fun, super intense.
Doc: I like performing “Artificial” and “So Many Feelings.”
Venus: Yeah, “So Many Feelings” is so fun - we get the crowd involved. It’s so much fun.
Doc: I like all the songs that get some interaction with the crowd. We try to do that on each record, but there’s certain points in your shows that you do it so much you know what kind of reaction you want to get and what kind of reaction you expect to get.
OTW: What’s it like to witness those reactions?
Venus: It’s beautiful. That’s what it’s all about - the give and take and the reciprocity and the energy. That’s what we doing when we make music. We shout, the crowd shouts. The louder we get, the louder the crowd gets and vice versa. The louder the crowd gets, the louder we got to get. It’s like a competition, but it’s not even a competion. It’s like a competition of who’s feeding the other person, which is kind of bizarre. “I’m gonna feed you more, I’m gonna feed you more, I’m gonna give you more.” At the end of the night we’re all just in hugs, in sweat, just appreciating the time and everything that was given.
Doc: And crowd control doesn’t happen overnight. No matter how charismatic you are or how good your stage presence is. You could have great stage presence at 14 years old and it doesn’t matter as much until you live it - it’s a certain type of thing that comes when you really have crowd control. And that’s something that we learned over time. We toured a few times, we’d get a crowd reaction - we’d get some good looks, talking on Twitter. But crowd control is a whole different venture. That’s what we’ve been exploring in the last couple tours - the Never Had Sh!t Tour and the Cole Tour. We’ve had a lot of time to learn how to really make the crowd do exactly what we want them to do, so that way we know how the show is going to go. Usually, by the time all the stuff that are surprise reactions to the crowd, we know that the surprise is probably going to go this type of way. Love’s going to come from it and we know the ways the crowd will move and sway different ways. I think what we developed the most in these past tours is the ability to have crowd control. I think that’s slighted by a lot of artists. A lot of artists think “Oh they got to be turnt,” but no, to really move those people.
You’ve been compared to early Outkast, what do you have to say about that?
Doc: It’s cool.
Venus: To me it’s cool, it’s just a part of the deal. Like, everybody is compared to everybody. Michael Jackson is compared to James Brown. D’Angelo is compared to Prince. You know what I’m saying? Kobe was compared to Jordan. Everybody is compared to anybody. It shows you what people think you’re able to accomplish. And it kind of reinforces to yourself that you are doing a great thing. You know that these people still have no idea of what you’re capable of because they don’t know the entirety of the music. They’re only telling you who they think you are or what they think you can be by a small percentage of output that they’ve experienced. You know, but you have this unending well inside of you so it’s like ‘Oh if you think I’m like these guys, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’ It’s as simple as that. It kinda encourages you to go down that rabbit hole into your craft because I mean, nobody knows what you’re capable of.
OTW: So you enjoy throwing curveballs to change that perception?
Venus: Yeah! Shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up! All the time.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch artists?
OTW: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Venus: Log off, love on.
EARTHGANG continues to tour and will take the stage Feb. 10 in West Hollywood. Find your tickets here.