Relentless Beats

A Look at The Underachievers Album ‘Renaissance’

The Underachievers are an east coast hip-hop duo, comprised of rappers AK and Issa Gold, formed in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2011. AK had originally been using the stage name “The Underachiever” and applied the title to the duo when they began producing. It’s an ode to their fondness for smoking weed, experimenting with psychedelic drugs, and other interests which could be seen as symptoms of underachievement by mainstream society. A video for one of the duo’s early tracks caught the attention of critically acclaimed producer Flying Lotus, who signed the group to his label Brainfeeder in 2012 and released two of their mixtapes the next year.

Two months ago they released a studio album, Renaissance, which served as the follow-up to 2016’s It Happened In Flatbush mixtape, which was also released on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label. It’s a 15-track album that showcases the growth of the duo. While a majority of the project finds the two artists showing off their own genius in the studio, they feature  Mello on two tracks, “Saint Paul” and “Break the System.” The album also has production credits from the likes of Tedd Boyd, Ronny J, Roper Williams, 2401 and more. Check it out:

Renaissance takes listeners on a journey from start to finish with a variety of sounds and settings including some social activism. The album opens with a speech by Marcus Garvey about black people making their own leadership. Sprinkled throughout the album are references to self-realization as well as Afro-centric lyrics. “Phoneix Feathers” addresses the African-American community directly, portraying the problems facing the community and offering possible solutions.

They also draw inspiration from their New York roots. The track that most exemplifies The Underachievers’ continuation of the east coast sound is the aptly titled “Gotham Nights.” The first track, “In My Zone” also has a beat that sounds like old school hip-hop in addition to the jazz-heavy “Different Worlds,” another throwback track.

Starting with “Crescendo” the album moves towards a more modern and laid back sound. The album retains its relaxed vibe with “Super Potent” and “How We Roll,” both tracks about their love of smoking ganja. The Underachievers’ aren’t (only) telling you that they have the best pot on deck, they often talk about the positive, medicinal or mind-expanding qualities of drugs, too.

Devoid of any concern for mainstream acceptance, The Underachievers stick to the script on Renaissance, an album that speaks to the soul of those more concerned with lyrical content and skill than catchy refrains and bombastic soundscapes that cater to the turn-up and mosh pit culture that are both the rage as of late. Renaissance is just the latest testament to The Underachievers’ status as one of the more reputable rap groups in New York. This is an album that is essential for the hip-hop junkie in you.

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