Dream Team

EarthGang’s freaky, trippy take on hip-hop is firmly grounded in their lives in Atlanta. Duo Olu and WowGr8 cover a few of the essentials for The Forumist – time, life online, and themselves – as their first LP is launched

 

Atlanta indie hip-hop artists Olu and WowGr8 met on the first day of school. Bonding over a mutual love for music that does not follow the rules, they have remained friends long after the school burnt down. (True story.) Now, and together as EarthGang, they have toured the world supporting headlining acts such as Billie Eilish and Jaden Smith. Having signed to J. Cole’s Interscope imprint Dreamville in 2017, they have released three EPs and now they have just released their first major-label album, Mirrorland.
So, first things first – what do they see when they look in the mirror? “God, generations of ancestors and a good time,” says WowGr8 (aka Doctur Dot). “A perfect work in progress,” claims Olu (aka Johnny Venus). “I think the more we are compassionate about the things we are afraid or ashamed of in ourselves, the more we learn about humanity and life in general. I see a person who is trying to be better every day and that is all that really matters. A while back I had a crisis moment where I had to decide to start living life in an aware state. I used to just be on autopilot and try to follow the crowd. But deciding to be my true self has revealed so much more. In the future I hope to see more of what I see today: more patience, more goal setting, more truth. Greatness is built one day at a time.”

 

Digital living
The digital world has had a profound impact on both of them. “My whole life I have always been a student of the internet,” says WowGr8. “It has grown and evolved as I have done through the phases of my existence. The digital has had a major influence on my life and my art, from the type of music absorbed and all the way to the different foods I am willing to try and everything in between. Even the way that I understand the consumption of art is strongly influenced by the digital world because it is a world that has a rippling impact through modern human life as a whole.”
For Olu, the digital world has opened up the actual world to him. “With the creation of downloading, sharing, streaming, social media, posting, and so on, I have been able to see places and people and listen to cultures in a way that was just not possible before. We can literally connect with people across the world and give them our story and find common ground. Then we can actually travel to these places and further cement these bonds. It’s beautiful! At the end of this year I will have visited four continents and countless countries. Next year we are going to Asia! That is all possible because of the speed of the digital world. The real beauty is people get to tell the truths about their home. I have seen Africa in ways that I never thought possible simply from knowing someone or following someone’s page.”

 

Travels in time
If they had a time machine, WowGr8 says that he would like to go back to the time just before Europeans decided to attempt colonising the planet, stop that whole process and come back and see if the world is better or worse today. Similarly, Olu would go to any time where people of colour and women were not oppressed. “We tend to think our world has always existed like this because this is all we see. But I know there was a time when those of us who have been overlooked and hated for our cultural knowledge, gifts and customs were once respected and lauded for the same thing. I believe that time was beautiful and prosperous for humanity as a whole. I would love to go there.”
On a slightly different note, speaking of which musical trends they are into at the moment, Olu continues, “African music is coming to the forefront now. When I say African music I am talking about a vast array of music from Ethiopian jazz, to Afrobeat, to South African rhythms, to choral singing. So much of this music has travelled across the world to Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, London, Toronto, Mexico, etc via slave trade and migration. It is beautiful that despite everything we are still connecting people of all backgrounds and inspiring everyone to move and dance and celebrate.”

 

Going viral
“Going viral in today’s market is often seen as the best free promotion for a product,” says WowGr8. “We live in an age where we have seen viral videos translate to short and long term success. It is really all about what you do with it.” So does something happen with the performance when it takes on a life of its own online? Hell to the yes! At least according to Olu, who regards it as a seed being planted. “The viral aspect is just the root taking form and the branches spreading out to feed people. Take our performance on Colors [the global new music platform] on YouTube, for example; our goal was perform an unreleased song in its purest sense and to express our truth. Our supporters and fans sharing the video took it to the next dimension. The beauty of it was that our essence was spread across the world and people got a chance to see us in one of our most divine states.”
However, the benefits and the dangers of any new technology are two sides of the same coin. “You have the potential to reach billions of people with everything you create,” says WowGr8. “It is all about your message. The energy you put out directs your path.” Olu also sees some of its dangers: “Falsehood, hoaxes, scams, cap, any form of deception that used the internet as veil. A person can be an influencer or any other title that comes with a significant degree of internet power that does not necessarily translate to financial power, talent or even work ethic.”
So, is there anything we can do in order to not become slaves to our smartphones? WowGr8 might just have the perfect solution. “Put your phone down. Or just throw it away.”

Team Credits:
Words by Jonathan Södergren
Photography by Chris Rinke
Styling by Fernando Torres
Make Up and Hair by Carla Curione
Photography Assistant: Luca Trelancia
Talent: Olu and WowGr8 of Earthgang @earthgang; dreamville.com

Fashion Credits:
#1, 2 & 5 WowGr8 wears Top by J Lindeberg, Glasses by Ambush, All jewellery artist’s own
#2 WowGr8 wears Boiler suit Stylist’s own, Glasses by Ambush, All jewellery artist’s own, Olu wears Top by Humana, All Jewellery artist’s own, Bag by L’homme Rouge, Glasses by Gucci, Trousers by Fila
#3 Tracksuit by Adidas, Glasses by Ambush, All jewelery artist’s own, Shoes by Off white
#4 Coat by 032c, Trousers by Whyred, Glasses by Gentlemonster x Fendi, Necklace by L’homme Rouge, Shoes by Comme des GarÇons x Nike
#6 Top by Humana, Trousers Artist’s own, Glasses by Gentlemonster x Fendi, All jewellery artist’s own