“Underachievers” is a 6 track project by the artists John J, Stotty p and King Low. On the whole, it’s an effective strategy. John J’s irrefutable star power complements Stotty p and King Low’s untamed swagger, making for a very winning combination. Three very different worlds collide on this album, and it’s nice to see the rappers stepping out of their respective comfort zones. Pop sensibility is thrown out of the window as the creative underground and alternative mindset arrives at a middle ground that’s explosive and exciting. The rap itself is absolutely second to none. This is a well-produced, well written and technically great album. The album see’s the rapper’s returning to storytelling style, rapping in double/triple time and actually coming up with metaphors and puns that are good again. Neither ready to be outdone, they hold themselves well. And in fact there is never any slowing down between them. Believe it or not, the album feels like the emcees are at the top of their game, and you are the lucky fan able to see it happen.
Most every song on this record is extremely good, and some particularly great. “Smoke In The Mirror” showcases exactly what you should expect for the whole album. The production that fits the emcees styles to a tee, and it shows how well they play off each other.
The title track “Underachievers” is a standout, from the hook to the fact that John J, Stotty p and King Low absolutely destroy every single line. It’s that high standard that John J is known for when he kills a mic, and surprisingly, they all perform just the same.
That point in an artist’s career where the musicianship between collaborative members of a project are as acute as possible is greatly representative for how John J, Stotty p and King Low rap together. “Unstable” is another spectacle to listen to. The emotion felt, is awe-worthy.
It is that running piano, mixed with simple bass and a banging drum that holds your attention in the song’s pumping underbelly. On top, only fire being spit in a relentless manner. And when you hit on “Keep The Hook”, it’s clear that these three don’t just just have the ability to string together complicated, multisyllabic, rhyme schemes; they’re also able to craft cinematic visions amidst the layers of wordplay.
“Off The Hook” is this kind of track with an unfettered premise, hard percussion, and room to play that the album ultimately feeds of. You’re not listening to some newcomer with pop concepts, you’re listening to great lyricists and flows bringing back that old school vibe.
It’s raw, pure and just fun to listen to. I would think the best aspect of this project is the ability to cling to the underground roots and not catering to the lowest common denominator. Throughout, the lyrics are vivid and the flows are unstoppable, and on “What It Seems” the trio add melodic catchiness to the package.
On “Underachievers”, John J, Stotty p and King Low are still showing off the genre’s past legacies, while simultaneously reaching for the future. It’s a smooth transition, and a perfect blueprint for creating a great album, that both bangs and respects.