The Underachievers, ‘The Lords of Flatbush’ – Mixtape Review
The Underachievers’ first mixtape, ‘Indigoism,’ was lauded for its attention to lyrical technique and the productions’ throwback ‘90s rap-feel heard in New York City, all filtered through psychedelic vibes. The follow-up effort, ‘The Lords of Flatbush,’ doesn’t center on the same lyrical focus and instead features production by Lex Luger — the same man behind the murderous beats of Waka Flocka Flame’s ‘Hard in the Paint’ and Rick Ross’ ‘B.M.F.’
How could the duo switch to a direction that seemed totally juxtaposed on paper to what they were doing on their first release? Well, Underachievers’ member Issa Gold let the fans know via Twitter that the third eye mysticism of ‘Indigoism’ stayed in the sidelines for this effort: “This tape is mostly bangers. All the lyrical conscious expanding knowledge filled magical triple optic s— will have to wait for the album.”
He wasn’t lying about that. The attention to flow is still there as the duo rap over beats that have more teeth than its predecessor, although it doesn’t necessarily translate into a better project.
Issa Gold and AK rip through rhymes with varying levels of braggadocio after busting the doors open with ‘Leaving Scraps’ and stumbling on the following ‘Flexing,’ which feels all too familiar to the many other trap instrumentals out there. The Underachievers threat level arguably reaches code red on ‘Midnight Augusto.’
Over a haunting beat, Issa Gold sounds especially threatening as he snarls, “N—- ain’t really ‘bout s—” on the hook. There’s also that sense of credibility when he proclaims, “See me in the front with circle of the winners / Show me my opponent watch me mother—in kill him / Third eye precision ain’t no way that we gon’ miss him,” in his verse.
The nostalgic, jazzy beat of ‘Melody of the Free’ may be a bit jarring on repeated listens of ‘The Lords of Flatbush’ because it follows right before the aggression of ‘Midnight Augusto,’ but it’s only a minor quibble since it offers some of the eight-track mixtape’s most introspective lyrics.
“Got a mama back at home the only women I need / Hoping that her son prosper so she finally free,” AK raps. “In interviews they say I’m awkward / But my flow gon’ break the thermometer.”
It’s a great moment on the mixtape, and there probably could be more of those to make this feel like a more complete project. The focus on bangers doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in lyricism; ‘Indigoism’ had multiple examples of that. Take ‘Maxing Out’ for instance.
‘The Lords of Flatbush’ is essentially dense braggadocio over more thrill-seeking beats. Refocusing is fine, but it’ll be more interesting to see if the duo can instead build on their next effort.
Listen to The Underachievers’ ‘The Lords of Flatbush’ Mixtape