EARTHGANG – Ghetto Gods

A hit ‘n’ miss return from the Atlanta pairing…

EARTHGANG’s colourful rise has fused playful lyricism with biting commentary, constructing a decade-long arc that has taken them from tiny clubs through to bona fide arenas. ‘Ghetto Gods’ is their first full length in three years, and it could mark their first proper stumble – overly long, lacking focus, and overly reliant on jokes and skits, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

It’s not as though EARTHGANG aren’t entertaining, far from it. Indeed, ‘Ghetto Gods’ contains more than its fair share of laugh out loud lines; the title cut bubbles with energy, while ‘LIE TO ME’ is a punchy return that leans on some vintage West Coast tropes.

The features are used effectively, the glittering names – Future on ‘BILLI’, Dreamville boss J. Cole on ‘Waterboyz’, the excellent Baby Tate on ‘BLACK PEARLS’ – illustrating the acclaim EARTHGANG have amongst their peers. Musiq Soulchild’s turn on ‘AMEN’ supplies an album highlight, while the glorious Ari Lennox lights up ‘Ghtto Gods’ closer ‘RUN TOO’.

Yet more often than not ‘Ghetto Gods’ misses the target. The skits – the return of which are a very 2022 phenomenon – are little more than in-jokes, while the bizarre Jamaican accents on ‘ZAZA’ border on the offensive. The running order, too, prevents any real coherence settling in – ‘Ghetto Gods’ feels like a record worn down by its excess, failing to secure an identity beyond the duo’s previous catalogue.

Olu and WowGR8 are still out there, still pushing the boundaries, and at times their buoyant, cartoonish futurism still thrills. ‘Ghetto Gods’ isn’t a failure per se – there’s enough here to make even the most discerning New Rap playlist – but as a body of work it doesn’t land in the effortless fashion that made EARTHGANG such a pivotal pairing.


Words: Robin Murray

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