The Underachievers: Indigoism (Mixtape)
Posted by Anthony Obst
Indigo's On The Rise
When I met Ak and Issa Dash of The Underachievers for an interview last July, their star was just beginning to shine beyond the boundaries of Brooklyn's Flatbush quarter. Aided in part by their affiliation to the already-on-the-rise Pro Era crew and the Flatbush Zombies, their first steps into the webosphere were closely monitored by a quickly growing number of rap fans.
And how could it have been otherwise? The Underachievers' video for "Gold Soul Theory" was nothing short of a revelation. Here we had two undeniably gifted rap artisans, whose spitfire delivery knocked their listeners clean off their feet on the first spin. Freeze, repeat, rewind. It was a heavy load these guys were carrying on the content side of things. Their references to third eye mythology and mind elevation did not adhere to the simple method of superficial decoding most rap listeners have become used to these days. These guys had something to say.
"When you're caught up in superficial shit, you're fucked over, cause none of that shit is real. All the treasure you need is inside of you. Once you find out that you have an indwelling God inside of you, you can create your own reality."
Dash's words echo in the carefully mapped out visual clues injected into the "Gold Soul Theory" video. Luminescent Egyptian imagery, piles of philosophical scripture scattered on the floor boards, a giant chieftain mural in a Williamsburg backyard-- this was all part of The Underachievers' discourse of spiritual enlightenment.
What's more is that Ak and Dash didn't come across as lost-in-time nerd weirdos desperately trying to get some kind of backpackers' message across. The Underachievers sound is that of the here and now. A twinkling beat with knocking bass and dry drums, vaguely reminiscent of Hit-Boy's "Goldie," screwed vocal bits thrown in for good measure. Brooklyn, New York City, finally back to being the rap mecca it once was.
Six months have passed since then and the rap world is desperately waiting to get their cursors on the first tangible Underachievers project. Initially their Indigoism mixtape was planned to see a September release, but a series of unforeseen events repeatedly forced Ak and Dash to reschedule. At first it looked like they were just trying to build up some more buzz, dishing out a few more nuggets along the way, like the acidic smokers' anthem "Herb Shuttles" or the mellowed-out wisdom chunk "Leopard Shepherd."
But then the bombshell dropped. Flying Lotus signed the Brooklyn two-piece to his Brainfeeder label. (If you paid close enough attention, you might have noticed FlyLo bumping "Gold Soul Theory" while doing his ironing chores on Pitchfork's "Fly First" documentary.) On the one hand, this meant that The Underachievers now had one of the most respected industry figures and a musical luminary in their corner. Then again, it also meant that Ak and Dash would have to play by the industry rules from here on out. And so the Indigoism release was put on hold for the time being, crammed into the brand marketing schedule of one of the most personable imprints around, no less.
The mixtape we have right here has long been overdue. It's not even an official album, so it's really an anomaly in our ever-excelerating music culture of push-shove-and-retweet. But it's good that The Underachievers took their time with their first full-length project. Cause these two Brooklyn rhymeslingers have the ability, the charisma, and now also the logistical prerequisites to not only breathe fresh air into the yawning receptacle of conscious hip hop, but to actually change the entire game around.