For Earthgang, there is no environmental justice without social justice
Grammy nominated hip hop duo, Earth gang is on a mission to create change.
âAs millennials we are told about the many issues we were born into,â says WowGr8, as Olu nods in agreement. âOf course, as you get older you will see how much you can fix. “
From investing in community initiatives to working with former First Lady Michelle Obama in the “When we all voteâMovement, to participate in Musical climate revolution by reducing the carbon footprint of their performances – and as one of the few musical guests selected to perform in 2021 United Nations World Oceans Day event– Earthgang is dedicated to giving back to the community and the planet, while spreading its message of hope and love.
Infused with the unique and soulful flavor of the South, Earthgang’s eclectic style and fearless lyrics point the finger at environmental injustice and make social inequalities directly in the eye.
âThe purpose of our music is to get our message out to communities that otherwise wouldn’t have had certain discussions,â says WowGr8. “Some of the themes that we cover in our songs, people know them, recognize them and feel them every day, but the discussion is not always there as it should be.”
And the duo that sells turntables knows what they’re talking about.
“We’re from the neighborhood,” says Olu of SWATS (“Southwest Atlanta, too loud “) where they grew up.” When I saw nature, it was either in a zoo, or in a small neighborhood cove, or on the Travel Channel. “
âI was not allowed to exceed a few kilometers from our cradle,â adds WowGr8. “But you certainly notice that there are real differences once you start having interactions outside of your own environment.”
The realization that environmental inequalities seemed to go hand in hand with social inequalities began to pervade the duo, as life took them beyond the invisible boundaries of their predominantly African-American neighborhood.
âWhen I got out of the hood, the first thing I noticed was that it was clean,â says Olu. âI thought it’s not that hard to keep things clean. There must be something more to my neighborhood than just a lack of cleanliness. And why do the streetlights in this neighborhood always work at night and they’re not in my community? That’s what got me thinking. “
Ultimately, international travel would provide Earthgang with their epiphany.
âThe first time I traveled abroad, I went to the Cannes Film Festival in Franceâ¦ Designer brands were everywhereâ¦ there was so much wealth around me,â recalls Olu. âThen I went to the beach and saw men from Senegal selling goods like sunglasses for very little money in order to survive.
I began to realize that these inequalities were due to mass production; that most of the people who run these industries are not like me, but the people who work for them and live on pennies do.
These are also the industries that create all the environmental problems. Overfishing, oil spills, it’s all part of this mass production system. This is how I started to make the link between social inequalities and environmental inequalities.
Olu and WowGr8 know from their own life experiences that not everyone benefits mass consumerism. The inequality created by many large industries has social, economic and environmental impacts that are disproportionately felt by people of color.
Their answer: think global and act local.
On Earth Day, April 22, Earthgang advanced its own community in southwest Atlanta by inaugurating a community garden at Jean Childs Young Middle School, where students reported food insecurity was one of their main obstacles to success. The pair contributed $ 10,000 in seed funding and are currently raising an additional $ 200,000 via crowdfunding to grow and sustain the project.
âWe have friends, cousins ââwho go there. It’s part of our community, on our side of town. There are food deserts and people don’t have the knowledge or the learning to take care of themselves, âsays WowGr8. âThe community garden is used in the school curriculum to teach children about sustainability and agriculture. It is a wealth of knowledge of how to grow food.
In addition to enhancing food security, the project has fostered a connection with nature that Olu and WowGr8 did not have as a child, but which they consider vital. It is a message that they have sought to promote through their music.
I see the beauty in the little things | Listen to the music when the wind blows | Turn those moments into memories | Don’t overthink it, keep it simple | Spread love like a miracle
– Great love (sung at the UN World Ocean Day event)
Earthgang’s latest project, Ghetto Gods, explores the theme of elevation above circumstances through connection with self and nature.
It’s an introspective statement about looking within and giving back.
âIt’s about finding God inside of you,â says Olu. âIt doesn’t matter whether you are from the ghetto or not. It’s about finding the light that has been buried and developing it so that you can send it back to humanity and nature.
âWe all suffer as a planet,â the duo explains. âBut we are all one. We are all Earthgang.