In the unforgiving high-desert plains outlying the forested Northwest, small towns abound, agriculture and mountaineering are ways of life, and conservative culture has planted firm and deep roots. This is the last place, it would seem, that you’d find artistry and expression inspired by the ideologies of KRS-ONE, the lyrical tenacity of the Wu Tang Clan, and the powerfully liberating boom-bap produced by DJ Premier and Pete Rock. Fortunately, Boise aka the City of Trees is somewhat of an abnormality itself—and just as the Boise River gives rise to a lush valley oasis amid the desert, so too has the influence of independent and original hip-hop manifested itself in Idaho.
Watch “The Message” by The Earthlings
Originally established in late 2013 by Andy O., Axiom Tha Wyze, and Alexander the Greatest under the Earthlings Entertainment label, and later expanding to include ZERO, Clev Speech, and DJ Manek, The Earthlings stands as one of Boise’s only existing, lyrically-driven, collaborative hip-hop groups. Each MC is strong and unique in his own way, but united they produce a cohesive sound that transcends solo artistry.
Upon formation, The Earthlings began taking on a massive amount of live shows with an emphasis in their performances put on knowledge and creativity (the ‘hip’) as well as energy and entertainment (the ‘hop’). This is where the respect for and value of the original New York movement collides with the innovative styles of the Northwest—and it has proven a boon.
The group quickly became a regular act at a spattering of local venues, participating in and helping facilitate 208 Music’s Hip Hop Sundays, The Community All-Ages Hip-Hop Nights, and Boise’s own Treefort Music Festival. Mentions and plays by KRBX Radio Boise’s DJ Jason D and Trav G on “The Wreck” and by Allin Purcell on “Krush Groove 208” have only helped further solidify them as a local mainstay in a community that appreciates originality backed by tradition.
Owing much to a supportive local community, The Earthlings have continued to earn their stripes, opening up for a multitude of headlining artists including Gift of Gab, Mobb Deep, K.Flay, Grayskul, PsalmOne of Rhymesayers Ent., Louis Logic (formerly of the Demigodz), and rising independent artist Jay Tablet to name a few–but that’s just the beginning.
With a debut album in the works and shows amassing on the road, The Earthlings expect nothing but steady growth on and into the future. Because, while it’s important never to forget where you came from, it’s equally as important to focus on where you’re going and how you’ll get there.
This is the message The Earthlings humbly preach. They’re not special. They’re not above anybody else. They just recognize that with the right drive, wit, and determination, anything can be accomplished.
We’re all born to do great things.
Watch The Earthlings perform “Never Die” live
Like the mystic disciples of Eastern martial arts, Eric Guerrero studied hip-hop religiously for years before picking up the mic and donning the moniker Clev Speech. The patience and dedication have paid off, as Clev’s style of delivery, creative wordplay, and lyrical concepts help to position him among the most talented MCs involved in the Boise hip-hop scene. Clev’s initial foray as a solo artist saw the collaborative production and release of the Weapon X EP in May 2014, backed by beatmaster John Weighn. In 2016 the Clev/Weighn duo will be dropping The Great Raps Be…, as well as a collaborative project with Mo Diggs under the name Les Fortunate.
Born Gage Anderson in 1995, Alexander the Greatest is the youngest member of The Earthlings. Always on the grind with a backpack, a skateboard, his MPC 2000XL, and a pad and pen on hand, ATG began to awe his hometown of Boise, ID in late 2013 with the release of his solo mixtape, Northwest Innovation via Earthlings Entertainment and Emanon Studios. With a taste for the old East Coast sound, he strives to represent hip-hop in its most unadulterated form. Preaching knowledge in the fight against established oppression, spitting fire with tenacity and unrivaled skill, staying true to his love of the game, and proudly repping the City of Trees are all part of ATG’s repertoire.
Andrew Heikkila, better known as Andy O. in the Boise hip-hop and entertainment scene, began writing his first bars when he was in the 6th grade. Fast-forward to September of 2015 and Andy teamed up with Weighn Beats to complete his Freshman album, I Never Went to Summer Camp. Born and raised in Boise, ID, Andy O. holds his hometown in high esteem, using both it and his past experiences to color his subject matter.He also borrows from and integrates elements of Slug of Atmosphere’s intense self-scrutiny, Aesop Rock’s wordy and bizarre patterns of flow, and Sage Francis’s impassioned, poetic verses.
Axiom Tha Wyze has spent most of his life in Boise and wears his rough edges with a sense of pride. His insatiable appetite for beats to tear up is evidenced by his notebooks, all filled to the brim with endless amounts of rhymes and bars. His raw, aggressive style stems from his East Coast Hip Hop influences from the likes of super-groups the Wu Tang Clan to Army of the Pharaohs while still spitting knowledge derived from KRS One and Afrika Bambaataa. This fire, coupled with a love for traditional boom-bap and independent hip-hop, sparked a strong performance on his first mixtape, Rum And Razorz pt. IV.
Cornell Johnson, aka ZERO is one of Boise’s premier solo recording and performance hip-hop artists as well as a member of the MC collective The Earthlings. With a knack for passionate tracks and live shows, ZERO has made impressive progress in his first year actively and seriously pursuing his craft as a career, stacking a multitude of opening and headlinding slots at high-capacity venues such as The Knitting Factory and The Revolution Concert House, as well as at the more humble and down-to-earth stages of The Crux and The Basement of Tom Grainey’s. ZERO began rapping at the age of 9, and though he’s grown more skilled with experience and age, he still draws imaginative influence from the cartoons and anime he watched as a kid. References to Naruto, ninja stars, and Jiu Jitsu are sprinkled throughout his lyrical repertoire, and often permeate and mesh adroitly with even some of his most serious and personal content.