The Underachievers Get in Their Zone on ‘Renaissance’ Album
After experiencing a dry spell over much of the past decade, Brooklyn has reemerged as one of the more fertile grounds in terms of rap talent, with an array of solo artists, duos and collectives all making their presence felt. From the mainstream to the underground, Brooklyn rappers have all been making major noise as of late, particularly The Underachievers, who have built a grassroots buzz that have made them among the more noteworthy subterranean acts in the five boroughs. This is a distinction that is only further solidified by their latest release, Renaissance.
Hailing from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn and comprised of MCs Issa Gold (also known as Solace) and AKTheSavior, The Underachievers rep the BK rap collective Beast Coast and look to follow in the footsteps of affiliates Pro Era and Flatbush Zombies and garner critical acclaim and fanfare while catering to true school, boom-bap enthusiasts.
"In My Zone," the Mayor-produced opening salvo from The Underachievers' third studio album, is a step in the right direction, as the two rhyme over a subdued, sample-based composition, spewing wordy verbiage as well and wasting no time in showing their lyrical aptitude. The more animated half of the duo, Solace bats lead-off on the album, delivering the layered couplet, "Solace is solid gold, bullets sonic spirals/Legend since the zygote, poetic with the haikus." The more measured AKTheSavior steps up to the plate as he emotes, "Was a young bull with the strength nigga no weakness at all/Well that's a lie cause in my mind I had to deal with my flaws/Zero degrees up in my heart me and my feelings divorced."
Harping on their authenticity and love for the art of rapping, as well as walking the ledge that is the New York streets, Solace and AKTheSavior continue to come correct on "Eyes Wide Open," with producer Tedd Boyd employing an electric guitar sample, which he complements with heavy-handed kicks snares. "The second coming of Christ without the nails and thorny crown/To bring you that funky shit that New York gritty in my style," Solace boasts. AKTheSavior sends a shot at those with questionable penmanship outside of the booth with the lines, "Back and forth niggas claim they lost but all they verses forged/Fuckin’ frauds get to pullin’ work like it was fuckin’ chores." He makes it clear that the Brooklyn reps are not fond of ghostwritten verses.
Producer Joshua Heflinger contributes the backdrop for "Gotham Nights," laying somber horns and keys over looped percussion. The tempo hits hard on "Crescendo," one of the more high-octane offerings on the LP. The track finds Solace and AKTheSavior flowing relentlessly over the Ronny J production. The beatmaker turns in a rollicking, 808 drum and bass-heavy composition. Solace tackles the hook with abandon, barking, "I'm addicted to the green, yeah, that's a strictly veggie diet/I'm what happens if 2Pac and Jay Elec ever collided." AKTheSavior also pummels the track with a string of punchlines, including, "If a hater run his mouth, like tic tac toe we cross him out/Take control, the Golden Child/I lead a army, Colin Powell."
However, the proceedings mellow out towards the middle portion of Renaissance, as The Underachievers service a few selections waxing poetic over the ganja, the most potent of them being the Iiidwh-produced "Kiss the Sky."
AKTheSavior continues to get litty on "Any Day," rapping, "Coppers try to lock us but we always prosper/Blowin' ganja smoke, shit we know the the farmers/All these dollars blowin' thank the Holy Father," while the pair aim at the powers that be on the Mello-assisted and Tedd Boyd-produced "Break the System," one of the more impressive inclusions on Renaissance. Speaking on the racism, discrimination, and bigotry in the world, AKTheSavior takes the initiative to call out abusive members of law enforcement via the bars, "Coppers tryna lock me up and chain me/Judge me by my skin, they don't care where my brain be/Sometimes I wanna take a trip back, back in slavery/Slap the master right in the mouth on the daily," while Solace anchors the track.
Delivering another bouncy number with "Final Destination," AKTheSavior and Solace end Renaissance on a note that's comparatively free-wheeling to the more thoughtful fare that illuminates the substance that their music possesses.
Devoid of any reaches for radio airplay or 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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