Since the onset of the pandemic, it has become common to hear entertainers and athletes say that they have to step away from their jobs to preserve their minds and hearts. Everybody from Naomi Osaka to the Williams Sisters and Simone Biles has bowed out, vocally expressing their problems while advocating for others to do the same.
Even rap has come along, admonishing us to respect others’ mental health and boundaries. Atlanta rap duo EarthGang’s newest song, “Strong Friends,” off their latest album, Ghetto Gods, builds on the legacy of artists like DMX, Kid Cudi and others by destigmatizing the idea of weakness in Black men and women. Considered one of the generation’s brightest talents, the song and its message are a sign of good things to come.
Harmonious to our ears and hearts, the song opening bars, “This is a safe space” serves as the anchor for the track. The notion of psychological safety has grown wings in a day and time where just about everything is a microaggression. Aware of that, Doctur Dot’s verse is the therapist in your mind telling you it’s ok to drop all pretenses you may have about sharing your pain. Part anthem, part spiritual, Doctur takes aim at all the issues that prevent black folks from speaking on our pain with bars like these,
“My people be needin’ a way of expressin’
Without feelin’ judgement or gettin’ arrested
Don’t talk to each other, just keep it all bottled up, life can get shaky, you blow any second
We forever scared to be punished for sharin’
Johnny Venus’s verse focuses on the general experience of black people in the age of social media, many of whom feel pressured to post a reel rather than keep it real in their lives. The desire to make it to the top of Instagram’s black couple pages is real and can make even the best of us succumb to orchestrating our lives for public consumption. Johnny’s verse like Doctur’s is the perfect blend of advice and encouragement, straying from a more judgmental tone and moving towards one of acceptance.
Her soul got a blemish, no time to heal it
Pose for the picture, nobody listenin’
Oh, girl, I’m with you, you ain’t gotta fake it, you ain’t gotta post a Reel
You barely know how you ‘posed to feel
I don’t know how we ‘posed to deal
But I got a phone you can call me on, you can open up shit you can’t reseal
We can air it out, we can cry it out, we can swim through it like a Navy SEAL
Building on the tradition of southern griots like The Geto Boys, Arrested Development, and OutKast, EarthGang’s song delivers the music we desperately need and appreciate. Channeling the same energy as “Jazzy Belle” and “In Due Time” from their Atlanta counterparts, the duo has given a new generation the soul food they need in an industry committed to delivering processed meals.
EARTHGANG’s “Strong Friends” Is Our Weekly Reminder To Check On Our Brothers was originally published on hiphopwired.com
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