May 7, 2014

500_1396590334_tumblr_mowze8stnf1r5hp9ho1_1280_16I had a conversation yesterday about who could remotely considered to be called the next Outkast. As you’d expect, there were no answers. One of the explanations is that Outkast were a group, closer to a rock band than a solo artist. You don’t need me to recite all the rap platitudes about rap groups and chemistry. It’s obvious that the phenomenon is something like basketball or any team sport in which your teammates make you better. Some guys are destined to be be Kobe’s and go solo out of selfish necessity. Other guys fall into the Bill Walton archetype, virtuosos who thrive off interplay and prefer sparking the fast break to the slam. The best duos operate in well-established division of labor. One guy usually plays the point, the other plays the post, and they spit pick and rolls to confound other squads even when they know it’s coming. Have I mentioned that I’ve been doing nothing but watching the playoffs?

The point of this belabored metaphor is that Underachievers are arguably the best young duo in recent memory. They’re thematically closer to the 2014 Hiero than Outkast, but like all great groups, they thrive off each other’s energy (and for the record, Outkast was heavily influenced by Hiero so the circle of life keeps spinning). Issa and AK attack less with the Aquemini yin-yang, then as a dual bomber swoop and mandalas dangling from the rear view mirror. The raps are fast, the vision is always at all angles, the effect is something like the hardest guys in health food store history burying you under a sea of abstraction and organic produce. If the philosophies are heavy, the movement is swift and deadly. They’re a rap duo, still developing, but far enough along to remind you why rap duos can be great.

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