A friend and I keep having the same conversation. Without getting into all the ins and outs of our back and forth, it all boils down to changing how society frames mental health. The usual refrain says to check in on those we know need our attention, and it’s the job of the “strong friend” to hold down the fort in times of crisis. Not sure if anyone reading this noticed, but the past six years have been nothing but a steady drumbeat of crisis.
That “strong friend” of yours probably has muscles in atrophy and buckling knees at this point. EARTHGANG’s sophomore album GHETTO GODS, out today (February 25th), has its sights set squarely on the emotional tsunami they and their community dealt with since that fateful day in 2020.
GHETTO GODS thoroughly explores trauma, stress, peer pressure, racism, sexism, and… yeah, you get the point. The album handles all this heavy subject matter in the way only EARTHGANG can. They never sound fake, and jump from one topic to the next with a nimbleness that rappers seldomly achieve on their second albums.
GHETTO GODS is filled with protest music for the club. Yes, that sounds highly contradictory, and on paper, it shouldn’t work. But EARTHGANG, like another certain rap duo out of Atlanta, knows how to fuse the sounds of their city with socially relevant messages without sacrificing one for the other.
“AMEN” featuring Musiq Soulchild — who is always a pleasant surprise — highlights this dichotomy. Johnny Venus raps about racism, God, his love for Black people, and, naturally, why he’s better than your favorite rapper. WowGr8, on the other hand, chooses debauchery of the highest order, detailing all how he’s a dog when it comes to women. Jonny wants someone on their knees to pray for him, while his partner desires a different type of devotion.
And both brief verses work beautifully. EARTHGANG’s penchant for popping off about the human condition is sharper on GHETTO GODS. Their observations are more insightful, while their ability to rap said musings is stronger.