Fabolous made payed Sway a visit on Sway In The Morning where he did an interview and dropped some bars. Check out the video above. Be sure to pre-order The Young OG Project on iTunes below.
Words By Emily Berkey:
Fresh off a 10-hour drive, Earthgang and their crew pile out of a rented car containing barely enough room for their five man crew. With Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot are JID, their manager Barry, and their videographer. They’re tired and ready to relax in the green room before their show with Ab-Soul. The juxtaposition of their CUV next to Soul’s tour bus was striking. They have a long way to go, but they’re on the right path. I lead them the “green room” of the venue, a hallway with a couple couches, and they shrug their shoulders as if to say, “whatever. It’s better than the car”. As they see the high school groupies start move to make room for them, they decide they need a drink.
We ditch the cramped space and make our way across the street to a liquor store. Jack Daniels is the move. I grasp the 5th while Johnny hits the walk button. We each take a pull out of the bottle and head back to the green room. As we enter we see a group of young guys pouring lean into cups while they keep a couple blunts in rotation. No one knows who they are. Someone from Ab-Soul’s camp asks the young girls how old they are. “We’re 18… we promise,” they lie. “Famous last words,” says the question asker.
We’re not allowed to drink while the juveniles are back stage. So we wait it out. Seems a bit ironic with lean in the cups and weed in the air, but we humor security anyway. Eventually the girls are kicked out and the rest of the crew has room to sit on the couches. I sit on the arm of the chair Johnny’s in and hand him the paint pen I keep in my purse. He grabs it and starts sketching the Earthgang logo, a feather in a circle. “You drew the logo, huh?” I ask. “Yeah, that was me. I want to go to school for graphic design or something… I draw a lot.” He replies.
While Johnny doodles, Doc leans his trinket filled head against the wall. A plastic blunt roach dangles in front of his right eye. A pop can tab and a twist tie are also visible, nestled amongst his locks. A large industrial size chain hangs from his neck. Nearly thirty wristbands lay, one of top of the other, on his wrist. I glance at Johnny as he doodles, ignoring the dread hanging in the middle of his face. He has them too. “Y’all saving your bands?”, I ask. “Yeah. Every show is on our wrists.” They’re sentimental.
As I pass the bottle to JID to take one last swig out of, Johnny and Doc get up to hit the stage. Their magic is seemingly activated as the lights hit them. Johnny whips his boots off, exposing mismatched polka dot and striped socks. On stage, the boys become magnetic forces of energy, drawing the crowd in, wowing them and making fans, even though in all honesty, the crowd came to see Ab-Soul, not them. Despite being exhausted from endless hours on the road, they deliver an amazing performance to the crowd. JID Comes and sits next to me on stage. Criss cross apple sauce. Seconds later, he’s killing his verse. It’s a beautiful kind of chaos.
Fresh off the stage I swoop Earthgang and walk around the corner. We sit on the curb and bask in the brisk air. A welcome change from the sauna-like venue. Our brief conversation covered their experiences while on tour with Ab-Soul, being from Atlanta, and their thoughts on using drugs to get creative.
Emily Berkey: Earthgang, y’all are here in Portland, Oregon, you just killed your set opening up for Bas and Ab-Soul.
*both clapping, we all simultaneously say* YAY!!!
On your twitter… well first of all, I found out that both of y’all run your twitter, which is very rare because you’re a group, and a lot of times someone else runs it. Why is it important for you to run your own twitter?
Doc: It’s not important at all. Nothing is important. This is what it is, bruh. It’s just a really good way to get the scoop on peoples thoughts. It’s just mind control.
Johnny: Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s basically just mind control.
Doc: But we surrender it in our own will. That’s the fucked up thing about it. Nothing’s important about twitter. It gives you a way to get your music out. It’s like *sarcastically* OOO SOCIAL MEDIA!, I never be that nigga to say some shit like that.
So if you had your choice, you wouldn’t be on it at all?
Doc: If I had my choice, it wouldn’t exist! There would be no twitter. BUT! I say that with a splash of hypocrisy because I be on that shit.
Y’all were on twitter the other day saying, “Don’t believe these rappers”…
Doc: Oh I say that every day.
Why should we believe you?
Doc: If you don’t believe me, and do believe them, then you do believe me.
Um ok, we’ll just let that be.
Doc: YOU GOTTA PLAY THAT BACK!
So on twitter you also said, “Money and attention only magnify who you really are,” you’re on tour right now getting lots of attention. How is that bringing out your true personalities?
Johnny: All these people are our family. I mean, the attention’s been cool. I mean it hasn’t been nothing crazy, but even the crazy stuff, we just don’t get caught in it, We don’t get engulfed in it.
Doc: What I like about our attention is that it’s not pre-conceived attention. Our attention comes after people see us.
Johnny: From a lot of people who had never known us… from people who haven’t seen us before… they’re like oh we fuck with y’all!
Doc: Our attention is definitely real. Our attention isn’t because somebody said, “Yo you better give them some attention!”
So you’re saying it’s more organic than someone who just came out to see whoever?
Doc: Exactly! Nobody came out to see us but we always leave with fans.
Johnny: They be like DAAAMN I’m a fan now! I’m a fan.
You’re in this stage of life where you have this big opportunity, you’re on tour with Ab-Soul right now, people would kill for that. You have a chance to gain new fans in an organic way, you’re leading with your product. How do you plan on harnessing this opportunity into more fans when you’re not on tour when you can’t do this face to face?
Johnny: Well we’re about to drop an album in a little while.
What’s the title?
Doc: It’s under wraps.
When does it come out?
Johnny: Next year.
Ok. You’re on tour with Bas and Ab-Soul, can we expect them on the album?
Doc: I can’t tell you! You little juicer!
Johnny: You little juicer.
Doc: I can’t tell you who’s going to be on the album. Johnny Venus and Doctor Death. You’re not going to be on it. Somebody call Young Lean and see if we can get him on there.
Ok, so Earthgang is going to be on the album. Cool. Thanks.
So, your first full length album you recorded in 2010. You recorded it in closets, dorm rooms, and someone’s home studio in Atlanta. Where did you record this new project that’s about to come out?
Johnny: We haven’t finished it yet but we recorded the bulk of it in LA and some at the crib.
So y’all are in some real studios this time?
Johnny: Yeah. We’ve been in some REAL studios. We were in real studios for parts of our past projects, too.
You’re based in Atlanta. Home of, duh, Outkast. Are you in Stankonia studios at all?
Would you like to get in there?
Johnny: Studios don’t matter. Just cuz you’re in Stankonia studios doesn’t mean you’re gunna have the flyest album.
Doc: That’s it. That’s exactly it.
Johnny: It’s really that simple. You could go in there and make some bullllllshit.
Doc: We did one song in there though! It wasn’t for our project though. It was for a mixtape. The song’s called Lion’s Den. That’s the only song we ever did, and the only song I ever really want to do at Stankonia. I don’t ever really wanna go in there again.
Johnny: I like recording in places where no one knows where we at.
Doc: Yeah, that’s why I don’t like Stankonia, because there’s hella people watching. It’s a spectacle.
Johnny: Yeah, we like the privacy!
Doc: Yeah, I mean like I don’t know too many painters that like painting in front of other people. They just be at the crib.
Why do you like the privacy?
Johnny: It’s more intimate. You have more time with your thoughts and what you really want to compose.
Doc: Yeah, and you never know what you’re going to come up with when you’re talking to yourself. Most people are more creative when they’re talking to themselves. When you’re just talking to yourself you’re even more creative, versus someone being like Yeah that shit hard, bruh! I don’t really care EVER what people say in the studio. I be like, why you even here, man?
Johnny: They be takin’ pictures of the boards and I be like look man, chill.
Showin out for Instagram!
There are so many new artists coming out of Atlanta…
Doc: Yeah, Atlanta’s boomin right now.
Who are you working with, and who would you like to work with, coming out of Atlanta?
Doc: You know off top we work with JID. That’s my brother. He’s part of Spillage Village. He’s AMAZING as fuck. He was on that Curtis Williams project that just dropped. He’s got a song out with OG MACO out right now called War. His project next year is going to be crazy.
Johnny: It’s going to be crazy.
Doc: Umm… Mary Mariba… We’ve got some tracks with her. She’s from the A. We’ve got some vaulted records with some of Atlanta’s favorites right now. We’ve got some records in the vault right now though that are just waiting to change the spectrum of Atlanta. I don’t know when they’re going to put them out.
Who are those albums with?
Can’t tell you. I can’t tell you too much.
Ok, besides y’all, who’s got next in Atlanta?
*Simultaneously they both say* JID
Doc: He’s got some stuff in the works. I can’t say too much about that now though. I keep saying that. I feel like Michael Jackson.
So JID’s been on tour with y’all this whole time. Have you taken him under your wing or would you see he’s at the same level as you?
Doc: Yeah. JID can rap circles around niggas.
Johnny: JID is crazy bruh. He’s not under our wing. For one thing, he’s older than me, so I don’t even try him like that and another thing, he graduated high school at the same time as us. He’s just as dope, but he hasn’t had the same platform as us, because the hipsters liked us first. That don’t mean shit though.
That’s how it happens! The politics of rap. So y’all have been on tour for a while now and you tweeted “The hospitality industry hates us”.
*They both look at each other and laugh at the same time*
Have you been having a rough time on the road?
Johnny: Yeah. They tried to make my man sleep in the car. We got into Minneapolis way late, like 2:30am, right? We pulled up and we was walkin’ inside and this old lady behind the counter was like “y’all can’t fit 5 people into a room, it’s a fire hazard”. We were like ma’am, we just drove 14 hours from Pittsburg, and we just wanna sleep and get up at 7:30 and leave.
Doc: We just wanted a couple hours of sleep, and she was a bitch…
Johnny: But she was like no, somebody’s gunna have to sleep outside or something.
Doc: So I’m finna walk outside and this bitch had the never to say, ”If you want you can sleep in the lobby”
For real? She said you could sleep in the lobby?
Doc: Yeah, I felt like it was some Jim Crowe shit. I was like “nah, bro, I’ll be alright. BYE!” So I went outside and later just went into the room and slept.
Johnny: JID went down and was like, “Lady, you need to have some compassion.”
Did y’all ended up sleeping in the room?
Doc: Yeah. We were good.
Last question. Your tweets, music, lyrics, your most recent video, really reference drugs. How to psychedelics, marijuana, etc, play a part in your creative process?
Doc: First of all, let me say this. I hate people that act like drugs make them creative. You are creative without that shit. It’s fun to do. Just say you do drugs because it’s fun to do. IT IS FUN TO DO DRUGS.
Johnny: It’s fun to do drugs. There’s some shit I don’t touch though. It’s just like… it’s different filters of thinking through.
Doc: Yeah, it’s just filters bro.
Johnny: It’s like different lens colors.
Doc: Yeah, if you can’t take pictures anyway, your pictures are still going to suck no matter what lens you have on.
Johnny: No matter what lens you have on.
It’s time for y’all to go inside and do your song with Soul. Get it!
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