From the moment the 7 track EP “Underachievers 2” opens, John J, Stotty P and King Low show their style. They set the stage for what is a creative extravaganza that unabashedly embraces and surpasses their previous release “Underachievers”. The rappers retain their gift for making multisyllabic, exposition-rich tongue twisters seem effortlessly conversational, and the cinematic accompaniments are as engrossing as ever. All rousing swells and hyperkinetic beats carry the intense raps and exquisite hooks, deliciously delivered by the crew which also includes Saint C on a number of tracks. Though, John J, Stotty P and King Low display lyrical acrobatics throughout the entirety of the project, nothing ever sounds forced or over-emphasized. The group fit each other like a hand to a glove – a testament to their prowess, as some of the verses on this recording will blow your mind every single time you hear them.
With “Underachievers 2”, John J, Stotty P and King Low follow in the footsteps of the genres former torchbearers, expanding the collective imagination of hip-hop and reinterpreting what the culture could and should encompass. They also ignite a deep passion for rap and hip-hop in the new generation of listeners.
Daily, I’m bombarded with new artists from new places with new albums that have new sounds. So whenever someone asks me who my favorite artists are, it’s generally impossible to come up with a satisfactory answer. Right now though, if we’re talking underground music, John J, Stotty P and King Low are very high up on that list.
Hip-hop and rap groups are very hard to come by these days. Especially good ones. But this project seems to have what it takes to convince both casual listeners and hip-hop heads. These fellows turn out songs that are catchy on the surface, but run deep with substance. And it’s all wrapped up in imaginative instrumentation, genre-bending stylings and immense ambition.
The actual music, the raps, and even the lyrics are accomplished enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, yet if you wanted to just sit back and enjoy some sweet flows and beats, you can do that too. It’s a unique proposition pulled off with aplomb that results in a consistent and original record.
If you like wordplay, focused ideas in songs and quality rap then “Underachievers 2” is for you. It kicks off on an extraordinarily high note with “Known Better” featuring the stunning Breanna Marin on the hook. Breana has also featured on many of John J’s solos releases, and is without a doubt one of the best hook singers in the business – indie or otherwise.
“Wings” is another amazing cut, where everything works – the beat, the bars, the cinematic widescreen aura and the effects. The combination of flow and literary devices is top tier. “This Time” rolls in on a laidback guitar interlude, but maintains a gritty rhyme scheme between the melodic parts.
“Strong” is very creative and it had me hooked at first listen. The lyrics and fiery flow blends very nicely with the atmospheric production. “Regrets” can be called hip-hop only insofar as there are guys speaking in rhymes over a beat. Aside from that, it utterly transcends genre and wedges itself in your mind as a musical masterpiece.
“Pain” is a brilliant tune with a compelling story that’s very easy to get involved in because of the wonderful lyrical imagery. The closer, “Seen Too Much” reaches for the same elevated level as the opening track, switching between melodic sweeps and streetwise bars.
This record excels in every area where a hip-hop record can, and even eclipses the wonderful previous project by John J, Stotty P and King Low. Any fan of the genre should be more than happy with it, and those who are new should start here. You’ll hardly find anything more impressive around right now than “Underachievers 2”.