By Ruby Longoria and Taha Ali
Close friends and collaborators, J.I.D and EARTHGANG band together for the Never Had Sh!t tour. EARTHGANG returns to Austin at the intimate Come and Take it Live venue after just a short, jam-packed absence. In just five months, the duo has toured Europe and released three EPs – Rags, Robots, and Royalty as teasers to their anticipated debut album Mirror Land.
The house was packed for this sold out show. Dreamville’s promising signee, Lute, opened up with his smooth, J Dilla produced track “Still Slummin”. Slowly picking up the pace, he closed out his set with the energetic track, “Juggin.”
Feeding off that energy, Chaz French runs out on stage and immediately entices the crowd to move closer because, “We all family!” Throughout his set he emphasized the importance of community and positivity, eventually transitioning into his charismatic performance of “Squad.” French closed his set with his most popular song, “Way Out,” leaving the crowd jumping off their feet, ready for more.
The promising Atlanta duo took the stage with their horn- heavy yet mellow song “Cocktails” from their latest EP, Royalty. Doctur Dot delivered a meta opening verse: “I’m the latest phenomenon you should be hip to, bandwagon seats goin’ extinct” – hinting at their fast and efficient emergence into the hip-hop game.
EARTHGANG’s sonic energy was visualized on stage. The pair jumped around stage as if in a pinball machine – flashing lights and constant, contained movement. Their fashion, also bright and exciting, gave a nod to Atlanta’s hip-hop legacy: Doctur Dot donned a green Outkast jersey, and probably for fun, a Texas-sized cowboy hat; Johnny Venus sported snowboarding goggles and motorsport gloves that bring to mind Andre 3000, circa 2000.
The duo continued their set for about an hour, maintaining a consistent, bobbing drive all the way through until slowing down the energy, dimming the lights, and entering the crowd for an intimate performance of “A.W.O.L “. By the end of EARTHGANG’s set a break was much needed, and yet J.I.D. walks up – already in performance, taking to the stage with the track “LAUDER” – an 808 beat layered with J.I.D’s tight-knit flow and no break between syllables – an organized, stream of consciousness-like flow.
The love from the crowd could be felt when J.I.D performed “Hereditary” as many sang along word for word, connecting with the artist as he sang about overcoming inevitable heartbreak. A genuine spirit of family and community circulated the crowd, true to the foundations of Atlanta hip-hop’s tradition of collaboration and building each other up.
Slinking onto the stage to the ominous hums that open up their song “Meditate”, EARTHGANG joins J.I.D, inciting a thrilling uproar from the crowd. A few songs later, Lute and Chaz French pop up on stage to join in on the family fun to perform the night’s most anticipated song, “NEVER”. In the midst of the crowd surfing, the selfie-taking and the sweat induced moshing, the party was in full effect. The house lights went up and the crowd came to terms with the end of the party. The group stayed on stage to sign merch and take pictures, laughing with fans and basking in the glow of an electrifying performance.
These emerging artists are continuing to create a buzz in the music industry. They’ve caught the attention of J. Cole (Dreamville), and recently announced that the Never Had Sh!t tour has been expanded to Europe. In the meantime, we eagerly await the release of Mirror Land.
All photos by Ruby Longoria.