Ram Jams: ‘Spilligion’




Genre: Hip-Hop/R&B

On a Playlist With: Dreamville, Buddy, Chance the Rapper, Kenny Beats, Ari Lennox

Four years after their last project, Spillage Village is back with “Spilligion.” If you’re asking “Who is Spillage Village?” you may know the members by their individual names better. The group consists of EarthGang (Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot), JID, 6lack, Mereba, Hollywood JB, Jurdan Bryant and Benji. 

They came together during their time at Hampton University and have released four albums since 2014: “Bears Like This,” “Bears Like This Too,” “Bears Like This Too Much” and “Spilligion.” When they weren’t releasing albums as a group, the members were working on their individual projects and 2019’s Grammy-nominated “Revenge of the Dreamers III,” the collaborative Dreamville label album, the label that most of the group is signed to. 

The album was initially unplanned and ultimately came to fruition thanks to their quarantine free time. EarthGang took to Twitter on March 18 to announce the coming of the album that wouldn’t arrive until Sept. 25.

The album opens with “Spill Vill,” a skit that features Atlanta comedians Desi Banks and Kountry Wayne talking about the morality of their pastor when Big Rube steps in to offer his wisdom on their situation. This skit sets up the religious themes that the rest of the album builds on.

Moving into the next track, “Baptize” sees EarthGang and JID on a track with Kanye’s protégé Ant Clemons. The artists do not shy away from difficult conversations even if the music stays upbeat. On “Baptize,” EarthGang’s Johnny Venus raps, “Police, they beat me, we storm the same streets. / We storm the same block, won’t stop ’til we free,” referring to the protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd.

A line that stood out to me specifically in this song was Johnny Venus’ bar saying, “My verses will live if I die from slugs.” This haunting line is especially impactful during a time like this when so many young rappers like Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD have tragically lost their lives.

Mereba’s angelic vocals open the next track, “PsalmSing,” and announce her arrival on the album. While Mereba takes each of the verses alone, the chorus of the song features her, JID, Benji and Johnny Venus singing in unison to mimic the sounds of a congregation singing.

The entire project features more singing than I would have expected, singing from artists that I wouldn’t have necessarily expected. JID carries the chorus of “Ea’alah (Family),” showing off a musical side of him that I didn’t know he had. 

The next two songs, “Mecca” and “Judas,” are easily my least favorite on the album. “Mecca” is very tacky to me and the chorus is incredibly basic. The repetition of “Spread the love all ’round the world” is a little too on the nose for me. 

Despite strong features from Chance the Rapper, Masego and Buddy, “Judas” still falls below the rest of the album to me. The intro to this track is an interpolation of “Hit the Road Jack,” but ultimately throws off the entire song for me. 

While the whole cast and all the features give strong performances on this album, it is EarthGang’s Johnny Venus that I would award the MVP to for this project. Appearing on every single song on the album, both his rapping and singing is excellent, and he provided the glue that holds the album together.

This group of young artists is so exciting and continues to improve with every release. Though it may be years before we get another Spillage Village album, I am excited for more projects from each of the individual acts. 

The Bottom Line: There is no better time than now to stop sleeping on Spillage Village.

The Peaks: “Psalm Sing,” “Oshun” and “Shiva”

The Valleys: “Mecca” and “Judas”

The Verdict: 8/10