Borderless ambition meets boundless talent
Mirrorland, the latest release from Atlanta based hip-hop pairing, EarthGang, is shattering expectations of the genre with their exceedingly diverse sound. The pair, composed of lyricists DocturDot and Johnny Venus successfully melds elements of jazz, trap, R&B, poetry and a new styling all of their own to produce an album that—despite its bold ambition—never misses a beat. This album has the uncanny characteristic of being both wholly new and yet somehow wildly familiar. The two share a special air that both invites listeners into the group’s world and keeps them on their toes at all times. This album is an exploration into the future of what hip-hop could be. Mirrorland is a first-hand experiential look into the open possibilities that are afforded to those who go searching for them.
The pair’s flexibility is placed on full display within Mirrorland. The album’s opening track “LaLa Challenge” is but an hors d’oeuvre to the sheer unpredictability of these versatile wordsmiths. Early tracks on the album, such as “Top Down” and “Bank,” present more contemporary trap elements whereas later inclusions such as “This Side,” “Swivel,” “Blue Moon” and “Trippin” featuring Kehlani offer listeners a far more classic presentation of underground roots Hip-Hop—incorporating tonal vocalizations, complex jazz lines and heavy elements of R&B influence all throughout the productions. Outliers, such as “UP,” “Proud of U” featuring Young Thug, and “Tequila” featuring T-Pain, also present a new and vibrant sound for the young pair, showcasing their evolution artistry throughout the constantly shifting atmosphere of Mirrorland.
There is no separation from the artist and the listener within this album. Perhaps this is the point of the album’s highly symbolic title. The undeniable intimacy of EarthGang’s Mirrorland constructs the illusion that one could simply reach one’s arm out and grab the mic. Furthermore, the depth of both Dot and Venus’ arsenal of metaphor allows for interpretation and interplay with the listener as a participant in the dialogue created by the artists. The album’s heavy use of intricate jazz compositions, including various string and brass instrumentations, as well as complex and fluctuating elements of percussion, so too come to greatly differentiate it from the average hip-hop beat of the era.
Mirrorland is akin to a list of “do’s and don’ts” for one’s life: it is an overall fact sheet of what one should hope to achieve and what one should gravely fear. It is like watching the sun set over the ocean while an oil rig burns on the horizon. This album reads like one’s private journal; it is a biography, a portrait, and an epitaph. It is everything and this album is nothing. It is truth in its grittiest form. Ultimately, Mirrorland is the type of album that can truly be whatever you want it to be because it is highly flexible in its stylistic approach. There is no correct nor incorrect way to listen to this album. Mirrorland is artistry at its highest peak—and art is always open to interpretation. Lastly, this album remains open-ended in the sense that, in a state of such constant flux, how can one really know if an endpoint has been reached or if we are merely lying in wait for the next surprise?