The Underachievers: “Renaissance” Album Review

Written By: Brandon Basile 

Instagram: @RestlessSoul13 Twitter: @RestlessSol13 Blog: brandonbasile.wordpress.com

“That’s the problem with today’s youth! No work ethic!” was the sentiment of Arnold’s grandfather in a memorable episode of Nickelodeon’s hit show Hey Arnold. You know you remember! Today’s youth often gets a bad rep for … well the many things that plague society as a whole get blamed on the youth as the scapegoat in many cultures. So to live casually in such a pressured time is revolutionary. The rap duo The Underachievers know all about living casually within the music.  They fluidly blend spectacular lyricism over dope flows and rhyme schemes effortlessly. Natives of New York’s historic Flatbush Avenue area rappers Issa Gold (@Issa_GOLD) and AK The Savior (@iunderachieve) are currently signed to Flying Lotus’ record label Brainfeeder and have been making major noise since their debut mixtape Indigoism dropped in early 2013.  They are forerunners of the Beastcore East coast Hip-Hop movement featuring themselves, Joey Bada$$, and the Underachievers’ Indigo Clockwork supergroup collaborators the Flatbush Zombies.  Renaissance is their 6th studio release since 2013 and full of rhythms and rhymes to keep it hotter than a Brooklyn sidewalk in the summer.

AK and Issa Gold are coming from the streets of New York and its apparent in their choice of aesthetics. They have classic soulful hip-hop beats and the lyric-heavy that one would expect from classic New York rappers like a Nas or old school Jay-Z. On wax they actually name drop comparisons to NY rappers like Jay-Z, LL Cool J, Jay Electronica, and even Tupac, but they are definitely in the modern era of rappers with their youthful and creative energy with twisting intricate flows over trap aggressive beats.  They represent the lyrical heritage of New York rap, but are as rhythmically aggressive with cadence similar to southern rappers such as Migos or Gucci Mane.  They have very rhythmic choruses and bridges but without much singing on the track.  Instead, The Underachievers tie their verses with hardcore rap hooks and anthems such as the chorus to their song “Cobra Clutch” that goes:

Hear you speaking but bro

What’s the thesis

Lately I’ve been dreaming ’bout these rappers

How I’m gon’ feast, right amount of seasoning

Tell ’em if we see ’em wouldn’t wanna be ’em

Tell ’em if we see ’em wouldn’t wanna be ’em

“Cobra Clutch” is one of their songs that hip-hop heads who enjoy rap diss tracks such as A Tribe Called Quest’s “Phony Rappers”.  “Cobra Clutch” can actually be taken as them explaining their style and their perspective of aggression. The song opens with an explanation of the cobra clutch wrestling move.  The Underachievers rap so effortlessly that their tight clutch grip rhymes come off as smooth.  This song feels like they’re secretly telling us “we’re not really gripping it that tight though”.

 

On cuts like “How We Roll”, “Kiss The Sky” and the ridiculously dope “Super Potent” the rap duo delivers rap discussions over vibe heavy trippy beats that would be perfect for your next smoke session.  Imagine the most vibrant nephews of Talib Kweli and Mos Def’s Black Star from the 90s aiming for their spot in the sky and saying “Fuck everyone else because I’m flying” and maybe you’ll be able to imagine their spacy tracks like “Final Destination” and “Crescendo”.  These guys are easily dropping some of the best bars from here to Main street and are earning their recognition to soon be in Greatest of All Time discussions with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Drake.

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