If you’re unfamiliar with The Underachievers, a rap duo out of Flatbush, New York, I’ll let the words of the king of instrumental Hip Hop, Flying Lotus provide a small introduction:
The first song I heard – ‘Gold Soul Theory’ – was perfect. I heard it and I didn’t even have to hear a second song. I couldn’t figure out why these kids weren’t killing it right now. It blew me away how professional everything was, but also how forward thinking and spiritually minded these young kids were. It just made complete sense. Within the first 20 seconds I was pretty sure I was going to try to sign them. I never get that feeling. – Flying Lotus.
The Underachievers, consisting of members Issa Dash and AK, are part of the Beast Coast Movement, whose members include Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era Crew, along with Flatbush Zombies. The Beast Coast collective also count the A$AP Mob as great friends and frequent collaborators. The Underachievers put out their first video in May 2012 – the hypnotic visuals for ‘So Devilish’ – and they have gained incredible steam since then, closing shows for Kendrick Lamar and gaining over 1 million views on their video for ‘Herb Shuttles’, in which Flatbush Zombies make a cameo. Add the fact that these young dudes (Issa is 22; AK is 21) were just signed to Flylo’s label Brainfeeder and it’s surprising that they haven’t captivated the worldwith their sound yet – it’s safe to say they’ve already got the young underground Hip Hop movement buzzing.
On February 1st, The Underachievers dropped their first mixtape, the 17-track Indigoism. To put it simply: this tape is incredible. Issa Dash and AK have aggressive, lilting, and masterful flows, rich with psychedelia, spirituality and all types of what I cannot describe as anything else but heightened lyricism. The tape features the group’s pre-label hit like‘Gold Soul Theory’, ‘Herb Shuttles’ & ‘Leopard Shepherd’, as well as many new tracks, with work from a number of producers. The work from behind the boards includesmany up-and-coming acts from the New York area including Mr. Bristol, The Entreproducers (producers for all of the Beast Coast Movement), Bruce Lee Kixxs (Pro Era member), Juice and Lou Chapo from Tribe Gang, Dreamrite, Rich Flyer… The list goes on.
One of my favorite tracks off the tape is ‘6th Sense’, a poetic and vivid track that questions the possibility of a sense that may lie beyond human experience. Issa raps on the first verse,
Visions of that world is what keeps the strong alive
But I’m immortal, so my soul’s never afraid to die
A young pharaoh walking amongst these human lives
Consciousness is higher, reaching and grabbing my desires
The elevated saint creating with his third eye
Woke up out of a dream covered in gold like a wristwatch.
Issa Dash and AK take a lifted consciousness, dozens of drug experiences and multiple perceptions of spirituality and rap them into incredibly dope and likeable tracks. I like to see The Underachievers as the younger, demi-god, half-Buddha versions of Flatbush Zombies.
The hook drawls on ‘Play Your Part’:
Elevated, niggas know how we roll
If you ain’t with the light get steamrolled
Nowww, my third eye sharp
Fucking with the gods, better play your part.
The production on the tape is quite impressive, especially since its roster of New York producers are not the most well known (many from The Beast Coast Movement). The beats are complex and lyrical; BK-based producer Mr. Bristol provides the piano- and acoustics-filled backing for the ode to modern greed ‘Root Of All Evil’, another BK producer Rich Flyer crafts a smooth, soft cymbals-based beat for the story of soul ‘My Prism’ (one of the most psychedelic tracks of the tape), and Roca Beats gets the credit for the spacey, bass-heavy beat behind ‘Herb Shuttles’.
The tape has its slow moments, as most projects do, but they are few and far between. First Joey Bada$$, now The Underachievers – Flatbush continues to produce young rap prodigies with the potential to dominate the rap game. Honestly, this tape reminded me of what I most love in Hip Hop – dope beats, lyricism that makes you want to listen to the same song ten times over just to fully appreciate and understand, and a creative, clever vision that’s never been heard before.