Album Review: The Underachievers – ‘Indigoism’

“Within the first 20 seconds I was pretty sure I was going to try to sign them”. These were the immortal words from Flying Lotus himself when he first heard the duo’s song ‘Gold Soul Theory’. There was no need to hear a second song, according to the Brainfeeder CEO. This instant attraction to their hard-hitting beats and perfect synergy is infectious, and is one any listener will notice straight away. Make no mistake, this duo are extremely unique. Never before have two inner-city boys from New York found such a perfect harmony between East Coast and West Coast styles. Being signed to Brainfeeder, Flying Lotus’ record label, they spend huge amounts of time in LA as well as their hometown. This becomes very obvious within the style of Ak and Issa Dash’s debut mixtape, Indigoism.

The Underachievers seem to effortlessly keep an element of old-school, 1990s Hip-Hop, within their songs, but at the same time keep on-track with the very current psychedelic nature of the East Coast rap game in particular. The likes of A$AP Rocky have used this voice altering, slow beat method in songs like ‘Peso’ and ‘Goldie’, but The Underachievers certainly put their own spin on the style. The catchy beats which have become so synonymous with Brainfeeder artists are on this mixtape as well. So with the perfect cocktail of these three genres as such, Indigoism is a truly unique mixtape which should only serve to propel the young duo into Hip-Hop stardom.

Certain tracks have already come to critical acclaim by the public. Their videos on Youtube have racked up a collective number of views in the millions, 2.5 to be precise. The tracks ‘The Mahdi’ and ‘Gold Soul Theory’ are their best known ones from the mixtape. There are more drugs references than a Lance Armstrong interview, but the meditative vibe is one they feel they can use to get to the top, and crucially, stay there. ‘The Mahdi’ sees the pair exchange short bars about how they have joined the industry and that it will never be the same again because of their intellectual qualities. They argue that their style and level of intelligence have previously never been seen before. This is all on the backdrop of a simple beat with a very catchy saxophone riff.

The Underachievers try to stay clear from the mainstream style of rappers lyricizing about ‘girls and cars’, and instead choose to question the establishment instead. They want to be seen lyrically more like Lupe Fiasco, as opposed to someone like French Montana. As well as this, they talk about how they are here to become “Kings” of the industry and due to their meticulous planning and professionalism; they will one day reach their goal.

However, the mixtape is not absolutely perfect in every aspect. Their confidence is contagious but at the same time can come across as too much at times. “Lyrics holy like Exodus” is hardly a humble announcement to the industry that they have arrived. Those lyrics are from the opening song ‘Philanthropist’, which leaves the listeners in no doubt about what the mixtape will be about; their complete domination of their genre. They also seem to take an ‘enlightened’ stance to religion. In the song ‘Devilish’, they say religious people cannot see the truth even though “It’s right in front of their eyes”. Whether or not the pair’s ironic omniscience can be trusted remains to be seen. However, one thing left in no doubt is the arrogance that can leave the listener’s ears in shock at times.

Rappers aren’t exactly synonymous with having moderate and subtle views, and at times in this mixtape, The Underachievers fall into this trap. However, it is argued the duo should be pardoned on this front. They are trying to make a direct impact onto the music industry and their shock factor is a necessity at present. Although this is an integral part of their style, it is where the critics have chosen to pounce upon and highlight its shortcomings. On the whole though, their debut mixtape is nothing short of an immense success. It is sure to thrust the name of the pair onto every platform and from then on it will be up to them to fulfil their potential and determine their elevation within the industry. If they can continue at a high level of consistency, then the new generation of Hip-Hop and Rap, led by the likes of A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, Big Sean and Drake will include The Underachievers. Remember, you heard it here first!

Alex Rowlands

…Alex Rowlands is listening to A$AP Rocky – ‘Long.Live.A$AP’


Leave a Reply