On Feb. 11, rapper Mick Jenkins will join hip-hop duo EarthGang on the “Welcome to Mirrorland” tour as it stops at the Theatre of Living Arts. The tour is in support of EarthGang’s 2018 debut major label album, “Mirrorland.”
Earthgang is an Atlanta-based rap duo composed of Olu (also known as Johnny Venus) and WowGr8 (also known as Doctor Dot). Olu and WowGr8 formed Earthgang in 2008 and have been steadily releasing mixtapes and EPs since 2010. The duo have often been compared to the early 2000s hip-hop group Outkast. The comparison isn’t too off-base. Both groups were based out of Atlanta and bring a diverse sound, ranging from bombastic party joints to soothing jazz tracks. But Earthgang is paving their own way, mixing old-school hip-hop with their own new age sound to produce something original and catchy.
Mick Jenkins is a Chicago-based rapper who’s no stranger to the Theatre of the Living Arts. He’s headlined shows here for the last two years, and I was lucky enough to see him both times. Each time, he delivered a smooth, cool vibe that brought the audience together through a love of hip-hop.
Jenkins is definitely a rapper, but it may be more apt to call him a poet. While his jazz-infused production and sweltering delivery is of a higher pedigree, his penmanship is unmatched. Jenkins will weave sociopolitical commentary with introspective reflection before ending on a line about cool clothes that makes the listener think they’re at Harvard taking a class on black excellence.
Jenkins broke out in 2014 with his esteemed mixtape “The Water[s]”. Using water as an allegory, he garnered underground hip-hop dominance with tracks like “Martyrs” and “Jerome.” Since then, Jenkins has released two excellent albums and four EPs, ranging from dance music to thoughtful hip-hop. Most recently, Jenkins released a seven-track project entitled “The Circus.” He’ll definitely be playing some during the “Welcome to Mirrorland” tour next Tuesday.
Although Earthgang has been releasing music for over a decade, they’ve really been hitting their stride in the last few years. In 2017, the duo signed to Dreamville Records, the label started by rapper J. Cole. Also on the roster is JID, another Atlanta rapper who’s frequently collaborated with Earthgang since 2011. Beyond their well-received and inventive “Mirrorland” album, Earthgang was heavily featured on the Dreamville collaborative album “Revenge of the Dreamers III.” They were on the bombastic “Still Up,” the meditative “Sacrifices” and the Grammy-nominated “Down Bad”.
This tour isn’t the first time Earthgang and Mick Jenkins have linked up. They collaborated on the track “House” off Earthgang’s “Rag’s EP” and most recently on the track “The Light” off Jenkin’s “The Circus.” If their on-stage chemistry is half as good as their on-wax chemistry, then the Feb. 11 show at the TLA will be incredible.