Arts concert review

We’re all Earthgang

Earthgang performs at Middle East

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WowGr8 (left) and Olu (right) of Earthgang perform for an excited crowd in Middle East Cambridge Oct. 21.

Middle East
Oct. 21

Earthgang is the stage name of a pair of rappers, Olu and WowGr8. Known for their off-center sound and lyricism, the two have earned a large audience and have collaborated with big names in hip hop like J. Cole. To kick off the release of their latest album, Mirrorland, Earthgang came to Middle East in Cambridge to perform.

The first act of the show was Benji. With just over 2 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify, he’s pretty unknown, but after watching his performance, I’m definitely going to check him out. His regular street clothes matched the informality of his short set, during which he playfully joked with the audience and dapped up the people in the front. It was clear he was still a bit of a rookie; he didn’t necessarily do anything special, and he did have a pretty underwhelming beat drop in one of his songs after hyping it up to the audience. But he did perform a variety of songs that I could see myself chilling to in the future, with a lyrical sound somewhere between Chance the Rapper and Aminé.

Duckwrth took the stage next and brought a completely different feeling to the show. Wearing an all-white outfit and almost constantly bouncing around and dancing as he rapped, Duckwrth made it a point to put on a show. His songs were just as energetic as he was, and even the slowest parts were pretty upbeat. A guitarist accompanied Duckwrth, which gave his songs a unique sound that made them even more fun to dance to. The bass was incredible, and I could really feel the music, but it was a little hard to hear his voice clearly over it. Still, it seemed that Duckwrth wanted to emphasize the sound and energy of his songs more than the lyrics, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out too much by not understanding every word he said.

Finally, it was time for Earthgang. In a hip and unique style that matched the feel of their music, Olu showed up in a white fur coat and colorful headwrap, while WowGr8 wore overalls and a collared shirt. Earthgang combined all of the best parts of their two opening acts. They radiated confidence and energy and turned the show into a party just as Duckwrth did. There was barely a moment where they stopped dancing, and Olu worked up such a sweat that, by the end of the show, he had removed both his coat and headwrap. They were also as playful and lyrically-focused as Benji. They involved the crowd in the performance, throwing water on the audience and inviting volunteers to dance on stage. They made jokes throughout the night, including pretending to leave halfway through the show as if the concert was finished. 

The theme of the show was encouraging harmony among all types of people. Olu and WowGr8 rallied the crowd by having them chant “Earthgang,” uniting them into one voice. Halfway through the night, the duo gave a short speech that dismissed racism, sexism, and all other types of prejudice. And for the duration of the concert, WowGr8 kept repeating, “I am Earthgang. You are Earthgang. We are all Earthgang.” They addressed real issues through their music and placed as much emphasis on the meaning of their songs as the sound. 

To be honest, I was initially nervous that the duo would be slightly disappointing. I didn’t love Mirrorland as much as some of their older music, but something about hearing them live made even the songs I didn’t like as much sound amazing, and the duo also mixed in a good number of their songs from older albums or Revenge of the Dreamers III by Dreamville. My only real complaint was that for a good amount of the time, the DJ was just playing the song and Olu and WowGr8 weren’t actually rapping, although I don’t know if that’s typical because this was my first time going to a rap concert.

Overall, I had an incredible time. Great music, a meaningful message, and a fun environment made Earthgang’s concert one of the best I’ve ever seen.