After a delay that didn't go unnoticed by fans, rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot (collectively known as the EarthGang) finally released their long-awaited third EP, Royalty, on J. Cole's Dreamville Records imprint. Staying true to the aesthetic of both Rags and Robots — right down to the FRKO animated cover art — the project is a healthy dose of Southern comfort entrenched in jazzy sonic nostalgia.
Sitting at eight songs, three of which are skits performed by John Whitfield — better known as comedian DC Young Fly — there is no filler, at all. Focused around past struggles overcome, the EP is comprised of some of the duos more telling examples of personal storytelling, such as Johnny describing his upbringing on "Off The Lot," or Dot describing his struggle with ego on "LOLSMH."
As for features, labelmate Ari Lennox appears on the Childish Major-produced "Nothing but the Best," while frequent collaborator Mereba lends her unique cadence to "Off The Lot."
The thick Dirty South production lends to a cohesive project that plays out even better as a solid listen top to bottom than it does as individual tracks. At times it feels as though Chance the Rapper, Young Outkast, UGK, and Organized Noise melded together in a melting pot, resulting in the jazzy, laid-back concoctions.
Royalty is a concise, yet potent audio snack that manages to do everything in its power to heighten anticipation and expectations for their LP Mirrorland, which is set to drop this year. (Dreamville Records/Interscope)