The Mighty Underdogs Droppin' Science Fiction LP
I hate kids. especially on music. I'm sure Blackalicious used their kids before on a CD and i disliked it then as well. 'Hello, Hi, Ladeeees and Gentlemen, The Mighty Underdogs' say some small voices...
So off to a bad start with this the debut album by The Mighty Underdogs, the new venture by Gift Of Gab from Blackalicious, fellow Quannumite Lateef and a new producer to me, Headnodic. But I owe the former two a lot, Melodica by Blackalicious has got a fond place and memory in my collection and still holds up after all these years along with the other early material by the bay area Quannum collective.
And anyway fortunately the first track Monster quickly allays any fears of what this album will hold, a 2 minute rapid intro by first Gift and then Lateef over a nice rolling beat with jazz stabs. and then the kids come back in - argh!
Aside from the kids (and the equally annoying Doglude featuring assorted dog barks acapella style) the remaining 15 tracks give us a highly accomplished half-concept half-concious hiphop album. Headnodics' production holds up well and covers a wide range of styles and feels, from the more up front 'Gunfight' through to the bluesy 'Folks' and the more laid back 'Want You Back'.
With the aforementioned Gunfight being an album highlight (where MF Doom joins in on the verbal gunslinging concept to great effect), the headnodding rock style beats bringing together the three MCs different styles nicely it drops down a bit weaker with the reggae-hiphop by numbers of 'So Sad' featuring Julian and Damian Marley, it's competent enough with rhymes trying us to empathise with a baby mother addict but it doesn't really touch the on-point vibes of similar style tracks by Yes King for instance. Fellow Quannumite and Lateef meets the others on holiday for the excellent fast rhyming Ill Vacation with more jazzy horn stabs while Mr. Lif and Akrobatik both join in on Escape, a track that could be lifted off a Rae & Christian album. The slower tempos of 'Want You Back' and 'Folks' let the MCs breathe and show their verbal prowess even if the vibes and chorus of those tracks don't really excite me. Towards the end of the album the posse cut 'War Walk' featuring Chali 2na, Raashan, Tash and Zion doesn't do itself justice, some weak MC displays over a similarly uninspiring beat. Just as the album culminates in the fingers up self-celebratory but actually quite good Victorious it comes back with Fatboy Slim returning Lateef the Grammy nomination favour by providing a remix of Laughing At You, removing most of the annoying laugh samples and replacing them with a beefed up big beat breakbeat.
As you'd expect from knowing who two-thirds of the lineup are and perusing the guestlist this is a more than competent LP but overall it blows a bit hot and cold. It can't really replace Latyrx or Melodica in my top Quannum MCs album list but can hold its own against most of the present field.
Droppin' Science Fiction is out now on Def Jux
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