Very much a part of the current storm of overwhelmingly talented New York rap crews, recent Brainfeeder (care of Flying Lotus) signees, The Underachievers have managed to fly well above the clouds with their debut mix tape, Indigoism. Surfing on a wave swollen with a whole slew of new New Yorkers like A$AP Rocky, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, and Flatbush Zombies, The Underachievers (Issa Dash and AK) ride onto the scene with promise, talent, intellect, and a hunger so instinctive you'd think they were raised by wolves.
For a debut project, Indigoism is unnervingly good. Like, now-everyone-has-huge-expectations-and-they-can-never-release-anything-even-slightly-worse-pressure's-on kind of good. Confident (and rightfully so) opener "Philanthropist" reveals the Brooklyn duo confidently cutting their teeth over a subdued, precious beat; an incredibly effective juxtaposition that ultimately showcases both Issa Dash and AK's somewhat terrifying maturity. They close out with the line, "U.A. [Underachievers] what the game been missing," and the remaining 16 tracks convince you of just that.
I'll just get this out of the way and say that the beat selection and production on this mix tape is insane. "So Devilish" is a standout example. The beat is lackadaisical, yet totally two-steppable. Not a word of a lie, I was bobbin' so hard to this with my headphones on at work that my boss actually e-mailed me from across the office, "Watcha listening to?"
"Maxing Out" is a surprisingly un-ignorant straight up weed track. As they rap about achieving a "higher conscious" and reaching states of "elevation," The Underachievers may be painting themselves as physically lazy—I imagine them slunk down in Lay-Z Boys in a hazy basement with a Bob Marley tapestry hanging on the wall—their minds are hyperactive, jumping from rhyme to rhyme like a game of double dutch.
"6th Sense" features an instantly recognizable Morgan Freeman vocal sample and some unbeatable wordplay as AK closes out with one of my favourite lines of the entire tape: "I overlap these cons, replacing them with prose." Two songs laters comes "Gold Soul Theory" with one of the mix tape's frontrunners for best beat on the whole damn thing. It's minimal, robotic, and loose, and takes you on just as fantastical a journey as the lyrics themselves ("Woke up in a cemetery full of martians/Body carved and cut up like I was spartan").
The wayward horns and tight drums on "Leopard Shepard" are hypnotizing and will have you thanking Based God that this is the second longest track on the mix tape, because you will be hitting repeat on it over, and over, and over again. But once you've had your fix, you'll continue on to "Root of All Evil," a hustler anthem with undercurrents of unfullfilment. The piano is dark and sinister, and ultimately the perfect accompaniment for a song dropping truths like, "The root of all evil, dollars consuming people/People consuming dollars, like God but there's no equal/Think of the miles they waste, the timeless plague upon our race."
Indigoism is an amazing debut chock full of sneaky wordplay and insane (INSANE!) beats. Issa Dash and AK manage to weave earnest positivity throughout the mixtape and maintain intelligence while mincing words about (or on) weed. This is a gem of a mixtape and worth soaking in for at least a week. Fingers crossed they haven't raised the bar too high, because I need more of this. Stat.
Indigoism is available for download on DatPiff.