This album was released on September 6th this year. EARTHGANG are one of the acts under Dreamville Records that people seem to universally appreciate, much like J.I.D & J. Cole. I haven’t heard every single project that they’ve released throughout their career, but I’ve heard their 2015 album, and every release that followed. Everything I’ve heard has been pretty solid, but the one project that really impressed me was their Rags EP. I didn’t think Robots or Royalty were nearly as great, but they were cool. Strays with Rabies was cool too. I’m hoping that this MirrorLand album will be their best work to date. I’m not expecting it to be the best album I’ve heard all year, but I do think that I’ll enjoy it.
I thankfully ended up enjoying this album quite a bit. I still think Rags is their best project personally, but it’s not like this is that much worse. I think they’re both dope projects. I just think Rags is slightly more consistent. They’re very close in terms of quality though. I actually like every single song on this album, so I’ll talk about it in the proper order of the track listing. It begins with LaLa Challenge, which is one of the highlights on the album for me.
I think the production from Lido, Johnny Venus & J. Cole on this song is amazing to be honest. Johnny Venus definitely sounds a lot like Andre 3000 here. I know a lot of people have been calling EARTHGANG the new Outkast, which is total bullshit. The Andre 3000 comparisons aren’t coming out of nowhere though. He’s clearly a big influence on Johnny Venus. I think the first two verses on this song from Venus & Dot respectively are very nice. I love their melodic deliveries. The lyrics aren’t really super amazing or anything, but this shit is really fucking good sonically. Doctur Dot gets extra credit for referencing Jay Electronica’s Voodoo Man at the beginning of his second verse. The outro on this song from Johnny Venus screams Andre 3000. It sounds a lot like something I’d hear on Stankonia or The Love Below. On my first listen, I was really surprised by how good this album started off. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything this great. This song is dope af, but I think the following track, Up, is even better.
I think this might be the best song EARTHGANG has ever released. It’s really between this song and the following track. I haven’t decided yet. This shit is fire though. I think Johnny’s singing at the beginning of this track sounds really great, and the production from Edsclusive Co. & VOU is fucking insane. It makes me feel like I’m at a fucked up carnival where everyone is high on bath salts and is trying to eat my face. The wild vocal acrobatics from Johnny on the first verse make for a really captivating performance. It’s fucking crazy. I think the bridge from Doctur Dot is pretty dope; his verse started off kinda slow, but once his flow got warmed up it was much better. I think the song is amazing. Again, it’s one of the best songs they’ve ever recorded. The following track, Top Down, is just as good, if not better in my opinion.
Once again, the production here from Childish Major is fucking stellar. The beat has heavier bass than the two preceding instrumentals, but it also has an acoustic guitar element that sounds really fucking good. The hook on this track is really fantastic, and I think the first verse from Johnny is great too. Again, the lyrics aren’t really super impressive, but his delivery and flow are really enthralling. Doctur Dot kinda smoked him though. I think he really stole the show. He absolutely murdered that second verse. I was actually interested in what he was saying, and his flow was phenomenal.
“You look like you gettin’ to the check
I know you focused on work
But I can’t help but notice you can’t talk about nothin’ else
What about you? How’s your mental?
How do you cope with what you been through?
How’s your tempo? Who in your life are you really close to?”
I was like, “damn;” space left blank
Plenty of fish in the sea, but nobody fuck with a shark in the tank
You know what? I think I like this track even more than the previous one. I think it’s amazing. This is definitely my favorite song on the album, and my favorite song by EARTHGANG. It’s dope af.
This is the first full-fledged Trap instrumental on the album. This time the production is handled by Big Korey & Ant Chambers, and I think they did a pretty good job. The first verse from Dot is pretty good, and Johnny’s hook is cool. The second verse from Dot was nice; the line about him being born with teeth was funny to me. Johnny really killed that last verse; his flow was great, and the way he kept switching up his delivery kept things interesting. I think this is the least entertaining song on the album up to this point, but it’s still very good. It’s just not as amazing as the preceding material. It’s dope though. It’s followed by Proud of U, which features Young Thug.
I think this is the first single I heard from the album, but I only listened to it once when it dropped. Johnny Venus’ production here is pretty good. I’m not really crazy about his hook, but it’s cool. His first verse was pretty nice too. I think the second recital of the hook sounds much better. It might have something to do with the fact that it’s performed by Young Thug, but I think it’s mainly because of the bass that comes in, which sounds really great. The verse from Young Thug was much better than I was expecting it to be. It seemed like he was trying to step his flow up in order to keep up with Venus & Dot, which is cool. The last verse from Doctur Dot was pretty dope. I like the song, but nothing about it really blows me away. I think it’s slightly less enjoyable than the preceding track, but it’s still a dope song. The following track is called This Side.
My enthusiasm for this record kinda dissipates at this point. Again, I liked every song on the album, but most of the upcoming material is nowhere near as mesmerizing as what appears at the frontend. It’s still pretty good though. The more mellow production here from Natra Average is pretty good, but far less exciting. I think the smooth delivery from Johnny on the first verse sounds very nice, and the hook is pretty solid as well. Johnny’s second verse is cool, and the third verse from Doctur Dot is solid as well, but the final two verses from him & Johnny respectively make up the best part of the song in my opinion. This is mainly because the production kinda switches up and gets more intense. The uncredited vocals from Mereba are cool too. This track is far from a favorite of mine on this album, but it’s still pretty good. I fuck with it. The following track, Swivel, is probably my least favorite song on the album.
This is the second of two songs I’d heard from this album prior to listening to it this past week. If you listened to Revenge of the Dreamers III, you may remember that this song appeared on that project. I kinda wish it wasn’t on this album. I liked it before, and I guess I still do, but it’s easily the least interesting song on this album. Pretty much everything I said about this track in my review of ROTD3 still applies to it today, so if you want some more extensive thoughts from me on the song, check that review out. The following track is called Avenue.
I think the production here from DJ Dahi is pretty good. I was worried when the song started because it had a very low-key, mellow sound, and the vocals on the intro from Venus weren’t particularly great to me. However, it gets much better once the first verse actually begins. The verse itself is pretty solid, and I think the hook is decent. I definitely think Doctur Dot had the better performance, but I’m still not super impressed by his verse. It was good though. I like this track more than Swivel, but it’s still a low point on the record for me. It’s followed by Tequila, which is much better in my opinion.
I think the production on this track from Elite is great, and the hook from Dot is pretty cool too. However, I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback by the fact that it isn’t performed by T-Pain, who’s featured on this track. Dot’s actual verse is pretty dope. I wasn’t really crazy about Johnny’s verse, but he did his thing I guess. T-Pain was really great on the last verse though. I’m really glad they got him for this song. I think it’d be far less interesting if he wasn’t here. I really feel like he had the most exciting part of the song honestly. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve always considered T-Pain to be a really charming artist. I don’t think he gets the credit or recognition that he deserves, so I was happy to see him here. The song is dope. It’s followed by Blue Moon, which is another one of the better tracks in my opinion.
I think the production from Scum on this track is awesome, and the hook is really great as well. Both of the verses are cool, and I like the song more than a lot of the other tracks, but I still feel like something is missing from it. Maybe it’s just because the verses aren’t really that impressive. I still really fuck with the song though. I think it’s dope. It’s followed by Trippin’, which I was kind of dreading due to the Kehlani feature.
However, the song thankfully ended up being pretty good. It’s far from a favorite of mine, but I like it. I think the production from Groove & Christo is pretty solid, and Johnny’s vocals on the first verse are pretty nice. His singing on the hook is smooth as hell. That’s definitely my favorite aspect of the song. I think the hook is great. Dot’s verse is pretty cool, and Kehlani’s performance was surprisingly decent as well. The way the production kinda switches up for her verse is cool. The sexual content of the song really doesn’t appeal to me at all, but the song is very good to me sonically. Again, it’s not a favorite of mine, but I do like it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. It’s followed by Stuck, which was apparently the lead single for the album.
It came out approximately one year before the release of this album. I don’t remember listening to it at all. I think the hook from Johnny is pretty good, and the production from Elite, Brian Malik Baptiste, DJ Khalil & Ron Gilmore is cool too. The Andre 3000 influence is more evident on this song than it was on the preceding few tracks in my opinion. I think both of the verses from EARTHGANG on this track are pretty solid, and same goes for the bridge from Arin Ray. Nothing about the song really blows me away, and it was probably not a good choice for a single to be honest, but I do still like it to some extent. I think it’s pretty good. The penultimate track, Fields, is the last real highlight on this album for me.
I think the first verse from Doctur Dot is very good, and the production from Rahki is nice too. However, the best aspect of the song is probably the hook from Brian Malik Baptiste, which is absolutely stunning. I think Johnny sounds a lot like Andre 3000 on the bridge, but the similarity kinda fades away during his actual verse. He did a great job. Again, this is one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. There really isn’t an aspect of it that I don’t like. I think it’s dope af. The last song is called Wings, and it has production from D.K. the Punisher & Dre.
I think the first verse on this song from Johnny is pretty good, and I really like the hook too. The bridge did absolutely nothing for me, but it’s fine. I don’t mind its presence at all. The final verse is pretty cool. Honestly, I think the previous track would’ve worked much better as an outro for the album. This is kind of a weird way to close the project. It’s a good track though. I definitely like it to some extent, but it’s just far from a favorite of mine. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This album is very good. Unfortunately, the way this project started almost lead me to believe that it’d be one of the best albums of the year, but my fervor really came to kind of a screeching halt once I got past the first five or so tracks. Not that the rest of the album is bad. That’s far from the case. I like every song here. I loved the first few songs though, and most of the other tracks aren’t nearly as good in my opinion. I wanted more melodic, high energy, wild, eccentric, super over the top songs like Up. The more laidback shit that they did with songs like Stuck & Swivel was just kinda derivative in my opinion. Maybe those tracks would’ve resonated with me more if they were really impressive lyrically, but I just don’t think these guys are that talented when it comes to writing. Don’t get me wrong; the lyrics on this album aren’t trash. They’re just kinda there. I do think the idea of EARTHGANG being “the next Outkast” is pretty ridiculous. As much as I like these guys, they’re nowhere near as interesting as Outkast were. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I still think Rags is their best work, but this is way better than their previous album, and I think that if they can surpass this record with their next release, then they will have a very bright future. This is a very fun album, so I think I’d really love any future project that surpassed it. This shit is dope.
Favorite Song: Top Down
Least Favorite Song: Swivel
Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.