“Shoulds” and “ought to’s” are nowhere to be found when Johnny Venus and Doctor Dot get into the studio. Some people are calling EARTHGANG the second coming of Outkast – but their group chemistry puts even Peak Outkast to shame. Here’s everything you need to know about the eccentric duo that is reinventing Atlanta’s sound, one vibe at a time.
EARTHGANG the Extraterrestrials
EARTHGANG is creating one of the true one-of-a-kind sounds in hip hop today. If you listen in to one of EARTHGANG’s interviews you’ll quickly realize that these men aren’t just rappers, or even musicians – they’re true creatives. The duo from Atlanta has so much variety and actually seem to get off on challenging themselves. Listen through an entire album and you won’t find a single duplicated flow across multiple songs. Beats are diverse and each song paints a vivid new picture in your ears. The same goes for their work with Spillage Village, the hip hop collective that is also home to J.I.D and Hollywood JB.
For EARTHGANG, the process is about being unrepentantly themselves, leading them to reject the interest of major labels for the better part of a decade.
“Everyone walks around with different masks on. They have different areas of their lives that they hide… The more vulnerable that you put yourself out there, the more people you connect with. If you try to hold it in, you’re shutting yourself off from humanity.” – Johnny Venus
EARTHGANG: Unabashedly Different
EARTHGANG are Atlanta natives through and through, but you won’t hear it in their music, which paints a sharp contrast from the characteristic “Atlanta Sound” that is so recognizable in hip hop today.
EARTHGANG’s brand of southern hip hop is mixed with a solid portion of funk with more than a hint of soul. It’s also unabashedly weird. They don’t shy away from complexity in their music and are addicted to pushing the boundaries of their comfort zones.
The duo underwent a long stint as indie artists – seven years – before joining J. Cole’s label, Dreamville. Their rise is vastly different to what we’re used to seeing nowadays in the rap game, with new artists gaining fan bases by hopping on mainstream collabs and more-of-the-same bumpin’ singles. EARTHGANG began doing their thing in highschool, proceeding to grind for the better part of a decade through conceptual albums and unapologetic EP’s to build a legitimate organic fan-base.
Few duos are so persistent and unrelenting as the magical combination of Johnny Venus and Doctor Dot.
“So many people try to be this image of what they think they are, but why not just live and enjoy each experience instead of trying to worry about the image other people see.” – Dr Dot
Who Are Dr. Dot and Johnny Venus?
EARTHGANG was formed by Johnny Venus and Doctor Dot when they were on a field trip with their high school in Southwest Atlanta. The two were in 10th grade.
EARTHGANG’s musical influences span over 50 years of jazz, soul, funk, and hip hop. Johnny Venus has spoken about listening to a lot of Wu-Tang Clan and Method Man early in his life, claiming that Wu-Tang was instrumental in teaching the need for versatility. Doctor Dot’s influences were Atlanta through and through, idolizing TI to the point of imitating his distinct fade.
Outside of hip hop, both JV and DD have iterated their strong love for jazz (Dizzy Gillespie in particular), as well as other artists including the Ohio Players, Madonna, and Richard Pryor.
Check out our full write-up and playlist to learn more about EARTHGANG’s fascinating range of musical influences.
EARTHGANG: The Name
“The name came to me abruptly one day. It represents what we’re made of and why we do what we do. It’s for the people by the people. Our music is influenced by the conscious and subconscious, and we create it to influence the like.” – Johnny Venus
EARTHGANG’s Music and Collaborations
Much of EARTHGANG’s music thus far into their career has been solo projects with the occasional feature from Atlanta’s alternative hip hop scene. They have had several excellent major collaborations thus far, but their supreme versatility and balance gets us very excited for potential projects in the future. We’ve compiled some of their best collabs below:
EARTHGANG + J. Cole
EARTHGANG + OG Maco
EARTHGANG + J.I.D
EARTHGANG + 6LACK
EARTHGANG + Mick Jenkins
Some of EARTHGANG’s Best Stuff to Check Out:
EARTHGANG has released three excellent EP’s this year as part of a musical series celebrating their recent signing with Cole’s Dreamville. EARTHGANG collabs very well with other artists, so be sure to never overlook a feature. “House”, featuring Mick Jenkins, and “Meditate”, with J.I.D, are a good place to start with Rags. Be sure to pay attention to standout tracks on Robots like “Artificial” and “ROBOTS”.
EARTHGANG’s Last Indie Album
Their most recent album, Strays with Rabies, was their last full project as independent artists – it was also an album of great depth and experimentation. Be sure to listen to “Liquor Sto'”, a standout track on the album.
Johnny Venus & Doctor Dot in 2018
EARTHGANG’s celebratory EP series concluded with Royalty, the third installment with their new label Dreamville. Royalty was one of the standout EP’s of early 2018, showcasing a more jazzy, lowkey sonic identity than their first two EPs.
“It represents being from the bottom. Shout out to everybody who came from the bottom and came from the lowest. At the bottom, there’s nothing but pure potential. Zero is pure potential.”
Mirrorland, their full, debut album with a major label behind them, is expected to be released by the end of 2018, although the two have adamantly claimed that it wouldn’t be released until it was ready, even if that meant a 2019 release. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the resources and creative backing of a label like Dreamville and an artist like Cole. Whenever it comes, Mirrorland is destined for greatness.
Is it worth seeing EARTHGANG on tour?
Absolutely. Why? We’ll let Johnny Venus explain:
“We’re energetic, vibrant, insane. We like a lot of rock artists and they were the originators of “stadium status,” so we’re just trying to make them proud.”