Prepping for the release of their August 12 LP, “Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium,” the Underachievers deconstructed this week for a pair of free mixtapes. The Brooklyn, duo – comprised of lyricists Issa Gold and AK – set out to stir the scene with their psilocybin-laced brainwave rap, and that’s exactly what they did.
Each Underachiever has a mode in their own right – Gold is the decidedly more psychedelic, sex-driven twin, whereas AK, true to his name, brings more of a bombastic edge. Still, the two are each sides of the same coin, and “Conversations with a Butterfly” and “Blessings in Grey” showcase each rapper’s strengths as an individual. Listen to them back to back, meld the two styles together in your mind, and get ready for the two chemicals to mix.
The two albums begin with much resonance. On “Aquinini,” the opening track from “Conversations with a Butterfly,” Gold’s pupils expand in an ode to love on the astral plane. On the Yang side, AK’s “LSD Freestyle,” which introduces “Blessings in the Grey” with a raw take on the same topic. From this juxtaposition alone, it is clear that Gold is the more introspective child, whereas AK lavishes in boisterous choruses and attention-grabbing punchlines. And, on this meridian, the two mixtapes begin to deviate.
Gold’s rabbit hole is lush and sensual. It’s full of dreamy mixes and salivating glimpses into his libido. On “Lions Can Fly,” he parades down from a cloud onto a pillowy beat. On “September 5,” he tramps inward with a soul-stretched voice. AK inhabits a darker alcove, rich with images of the streets. Though he draws back on Gold’s steeze with “Higher Purpose,” songs like “Sun Child” exposit his skill as a high-energy grime rapper.
Together, the Underachievers are one of the hottest groups stampeding from the underground. But, apart, they are just as formidable. The two mixtapes, packaged in a single download (above), exist in the same lineage of Flatbush psychedelia, but, propped back-to-back, it becomes exceedingly clear what each member brings to the dynamic.