Rappers used to be the ones selling dope, not doing it, and while drug dealing is still a hot pursuit in many an emcee’s discourse, a new breed of hip-hop artist has evolved with an affinity for using illicit, mind-altering substances. This is not to say these artists (A$AP Rocky, Travis Scott, Future, etc.) are hopelessly addicted fiends because this personality trait is mainly personified to portray character types; still, they no doubt make a strong point that some types, forms and amounts of drug use are not as one hundred percent self-destructive and life-destroying as some might believe. To get back on topic though, Flatbush, Brooklyn’s very own Underachievers, whose two members Issa Gold and AK also flaunt a limited and conservative drug-open-mindedness, have returned today (Sept. 25) to release their sophomore studio LP, Evermore: The Art of Duality, via Brainfeeder and RPM Music. Evermore follows last year’s Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium and continues its robust saga of conscious street rhymes coupled with conceptual art-beats for plenty of positive messages and alternative ideas set to fine indie music.
The Underachievers begin Evermore by discussing their troubled, drug-plagued youth and their prior unfocused schooldays but more importantly how they escaped their downward spiral by harnessing their rap-potential. They claim it took a lot of mental strength, persistence, hope and the attitude that the key can be found right within their own minds. Tracks four through seven then serve as a positive call to action and a speech on how some of us are living like zombies, living lives that are not our own, and in “The Brooklyn Way,” they state that we can “right all the wrongs if we start from within.” Evermore‘s second half with its slightly rougher tone kicks off in “Reincarnation (Phase 2 Intro)” with coarse, vitriolic lyrics followed by AK and Issa maintaining a strong composition, assertiveness, confidence and defiance in the next few cuts (Take Your Place, Moon Shot and Generation Z). Those songs also include some nice drill bits (no pun intended), which has officially become hip-hop’s most popular, binding sound of solidarity for the mid-2010s. Needless to say, Evermore then certainly has its turn-up moments.
In “Allusions,” our overachieving Underachievers skillfully speak on subjects which are not explicitly defined in the song, hence the title, and then over the course of the album’s last three songs, they wind-down Evermore with more high hopes and stately views though always conscious of their ever-present drug habits about which they are quick to make clear do not define, make or control them (“We do the drugs, the drugs don’t do us”). In their complex, lively East Coast lyricism, AK and Issa Gold are believable when they say their worst days are behind them. How else then could they start a healthy rap career if they weren’t? Their emphasis is on control, optimism and lastly drugs so with their priorities set like this, is there really a pressing concern at present? The Underachievers all throughout the album answer this question with a resounding ‘no’, as they challenge the opposition, the competition and the authority with vigor in their voices and bump in their beats. Evermore: The Art of Duality is another very keen study of life and how we should think as we live life from the true to hip-hop Underachievers, the new Lords of Flatbush.