Release Date: Sep 25, 2015
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, East Coast Rap, Left-Field Hip-Hop
"I know my soul was born to do some cool things," testifies AK over the wood flute-and-maracas loop of "Rain Dance (Phase One Intro)". The Underachievers, his duo with Issa Gold, practice the kind of esoteric mysticism that once flourished in some far-flung corners of '90s rap, from the feverish jabberwocky of Leaders of the New School’s T.I.M.E.: The Inner Mind’s Eye to the pan-African zealotry of X-Clan’s To the East, Blackwards, and the backpacker bohemianism of Zion I’s Mind Over Matter, Mystik Journeymen’s The Black Sands Ov Eternia and Abstract Tribe Unique’s Mood Pieces. It’s an ethos that largely dissipated by the end of that decade as rap moved on.
Coming out of the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, the Underachievers crafted a weird world with their 2014 debut Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium, an LSD trip of an album that stunned with its psychedelics but alienated with its sprawling attitude and "third eye" mysticism. Whatever the duo were seeing out of their third eye, they had a hard time communicating it to all the "straights," but this conceptual sophomore release aims to sort all these ideas in a more sane manner, beginning with the division of the album into light and dark, a break that's marked by the dark and grinding "Reincarnation (Phase 2 Intro). " Evermore's lighter first half displays the most artistic growth as MCs AK and Issa Gold attack their Mos Def and Shabazz Palaces-styled lyrics with the force and the snarl of Migos, as producers like Nick Léon, Ashton Benz, and Lucas Savo craft diverse beats that would suit both the A$AP Mob and the Stones Throw crew.
It’s honestly not hard to understand how subjects of spiritual enlightenment, new age psychedelia, and building up ones own philosophy to live by would fit well into new school Hip Hop. With the genre becoming less of a rebellious voice, new artists naturally seek out ways to challenge the systematic status quo. Since their debut mix tape Indigoism, The Underachievers have seemed to do this better than just about all of their peers, combining rough, sometimes warp-speed lyricism with aerial and ethereal production.
In the 90s, a group hailing from hip-hop's birthplace of New York City, particularly Brooklyn, would be held to high standards when it came to lyrics and production. But in recent times you can barely distinguish where an artist is from, thanks to a homogenous culture of Auto-Tune flows and Southern beats. That isn't the case with Flatbush duo the Underachievers on their sophomore album.