Album Review: Mirrorland

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Album Review: Mirrorland

Brendan Paige ‘20, Guest Columnist

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Mirrorland is EARTHGANG’s debut album released under J Cole’s Dreamville.  The group is an Atlanta hip-hop duo made up of Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, who have developed a unique sound under the sub-hip-hop genre “dirty south”.  Their sound focuses on heavy bass and orchestral music featured in many Atlanta artists.  While taking influence from many different artists (especially Outkast), Mirrorland is a unique album that is a very strong debut for the group.

 The album begins with a rushing, slow, groovy bass that establishes the theme and focus.  “LaLa Challenge” is Venus and Dot creating this new world for the listener that slowly builds as the two spit creative bars of their daily lives.  The groovy bass that drives the song is enveloped with a high piano rift that arpeggios up the scale creating this swirly, sporadic feeling to the song.  After a short interlude, the song swells to a much faster, stomping bass that drives through the rest of the song.  This intro creates a great sense of what you are getting into when listening to EARTHGANG and defines their unique sound perfectly.

Many of the songs on the album follow this style of music, but the two are able to show their range throughout the whole album.  “UP,” “Top Down,” and “Bank” are three bangers that come right in a row having very heavy bass sounds that drive all of these songs.  “Top Down,” specifically, has one of the catchiest hooks I have heard all year.  The two work well with each other and play off each other’s strengths.  Venus is much more of the sporadic one that has a very unique voice and strong vocal range.  He is typically seen on the album’s best hooks, like “Top Down” and “Proud of U.”  Dot is much more of the introspective rapper that has a great play on words and versatile lyrics that fill up multiple outstanding moments on the album.

While the two are able to produce strong bangers, the best moments on Mirrorland are from songs like “This Side” and “Swivel”.  “This Side” would be considered the “title track” of the album if it had one.  This is the most introspective and slowest melodic track thus far on the album that focuses on the two trying to escape the dark, harsh reality of our world.  Mentioning the recent killings of XXXTentaction and Nipsey Hussle, they hope that nothing will take them.  The “this side” is supposed to represent “mirrorland”, the place the two escape to when in distress.  The song finishes with a crazy change that causes the bass to get sporadic where Dot talks about his past of police violence.  “Swivel” bounces off of this great song by showing the paranoia the two now have being famous.  They fear they will lose their lives or fame from some outside force.  The ability to go from great bangers to more introspective, thought provoking tracks so how great the two are as artists.

  One of my favorite songs on the album has to “Tequila.”  You would expect this song to play at any college party, with a Latin banger style that is driven by shaker and a switch drum that flips on the beat.  However, the lyrics are very dark on this track, presenting an idea that the two have to escape their stresses by drinking excessive amount of tequila.  Alcoholism and drug abuse are two very prominent themes on the album and the two explain that they need to escape their reality by consuming these things.  It represents how the two just want to be in “mirrorland” and escape the realities of their world.

While there are plenty of great songs, two songs stick out that just don’t seem as great to me.  “Trippin” and “Fields” both seem like strange songs on the album that don’t really fit the overall theme.  “Trippin” is a song about the two messing up in their relationships and struggling to have woman stay in love with them.  To me, the song just seems unoriginal and not as unique as other tracks on the album.  “Fields” is a stranger track that seems a bit wonky overall.  Although I do feel like it is an original song, the two don’t seem to fit as well on the beat.  Despite these mishaps, the album overall is still great.

  Mirrorland is an adventurous trip that Venus and Dot take the listener through unlike anything I’ve heard since Outkast’s amazing albums.  While taking many influences from Outkast, EARTHGANG is able to create their own sound and voice that brings a new uniqueness to this new golden age of hip-hop.  As the album begins to explore the inner minds of the two artists, we begin to learn that they are quickly trying to escape the reality around them, creating a “mirrorland” of our own world.  It is a great album that shows how introspective and creative Venus and Dot can be.  The two create this new world that the listeners can step into, showing off their uniqueness as a group.  Dreamville definitely has two great artists on their hands and I am excited to see what will be next for the two.

8/10

Best Tracks – “This Side” “UP” “Tequila” “Top Down” “Stuck”

Worst Tracks – “Trippin” “Fields”         

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