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Have you ever stood in the ocean as a big wave approaches? You see it coming but you don’t budge, you just let it crash into you and you ultimately leave feeling reinvigorated. In the rap game The Underachievers are that wave and we the public are the willing onlookers. Unlike a wave however you can’t see the duo of Issa Dash and Ak coming, as they subliminally invade our eardrums with spiritual rhymes and mystical beats, under the guise of New York rap. With only a handful of songs circulating online and no official mixtape or album out this tripped out yet sharp duo has rewritten the book on how rappers or performers in general should utilise social media. We spoke with Issa Dash about keeping the public wanting more.

There’s not a lot of information online yet about you guys, apart from a few little blurbs and the music videos, is that because you want the music to tell the story and is it something you’ve done by choice?

Well we’ve been meticulous with who we’ve chosen to go with for different things. We could’ve done interviews with a lot of shitty blogs and get asked superficial questions but we don’t feel like we’re a shitty group. We’ve been selective with shows as well, we could’ve done 30 shows but we only want to do shows if it benefits us and the audience. Come end of October you’ll be hearing a lot more. We’ve got a lot coming, so that’s gonna change.

So how much do you guys have recorded, do you have a lot of material saved up?

Yeah. We have about I would say 14 tracks right now. The mixtape [Indigoism] will be about 16 tracks so it’s pretty much done. We basically have just gotta add the finishing touches.

Who produces the music, is that something you both share?

The production is handled by Ak. He’s been working on this for a while and he’s actually pretty fucking good and he keeps getting better. If we’re talking about the beatmaking that comes from all over but as far as producing and all the cool shit you hear on the tracks, that’s all Ak. He’s our in-studio engineer and a rapper.

What about the concepts for the music videos and the visuals?

That’s the stuff I handle, I write all the video treatments and shit. It’s the part I really enjoy enjoy actually. I’ll write out a whole treatment of scenes, we’ll map it out a bit together but for the most part the overall video treatments are all done by me and the direction also.

What’s the process been like lately with recording the material, has it changed at all since you guys started or has it been a natural progression?

It’s definitely been getting a lot easier, we’ve both been getting much better at our craft I guess. I’m fairly new to the rap, Ak has been rhyming a bit longer. Now that we have time in the studio everything’s really come together and it’s really inspiring. It’s taken a lot more shape and its better times a thousand.

You were saying you’re still pretty new to rap, so what kind of backgrounds did you guys have before, where did you come from before that?

I was in college, I was a social science major I wanted to be a philosopher. But I think I’d be able to affect people in that way. So basically I was like ‘let me try out this rap shit’ because it was blasting all around me and my friend Ak was already doing it, he was a rapper for like six or seven years. I gave it a try and it worked and shit and that’s where we are now.

Do you see similarities between the music and the philosophy?

We’re philosophers ourselves, we like to look at ourselves that way. A lot of it comes out through our art right now. We fuck with religious shit and we like philosophy, all of the stuff that we learnt throughout the years has lead us to the crossroads now, our music. That’s shaped our message definitely, it comes from all that shit. Even though I’m not gonna be involved in it in that way we’re still gonna be philosophers in our own way in the music.

There seems to be a bit of a mystical or spiritual element to the music as well, would that be fair to say?

Yeah definitely, we’re heavy into the mystics.

 I think a lot of that stuff definitely helps, it makes the music unique and a lot more interesting and there seems to be a lot of different elements going on in the music and that’s part of why it’s appealed to people so far that it’s coming from a unique place…

That’s what we feel our secret is. Being able to package spiritualism and mysticism and philosophy into our music and hide it subliminally underneath shit that people of our generation can genuinely like and relate to. We’re obviously going to smoke some pot but our music is probably only five per cent about smoking pot and all the other stuff that seems prevalent but people can still relate and they can hear the beat like wow, I can fuckin’ listen to this shit’ and they’ll hear the chorus, it’s catchy and the lyrics are catchy but we’re subliminally hiding the good shit in it. It feels like a conscious awakening going on around the planets, so it’s perfect timing for our music to just slide right in with the conscious awakening and boom, just fuckin’ affect the youth. That’s what we’re trying to do, hide the stuff but not confuse the people but just gear them towards wanting to know about the real shit.

Well subliminal is the way to go, you don’t want to hit people over the head with a bunch of concepts, because everyone’s going to relate to it differently and people are going to hear different things…

Yeah, it’s like at one point we could talk to our parents and they would say stuff like “how are going to affect the older people?’ or the people that are already in the system. I don’t care about those people, actually not that I don’t care about those people but our generation is the one already geared and ready to take in the knowledge that not only us but the whole world has to give them. Those are the people we’re more focused on, even though my mum will be hearing a song and be like wow, you cursed 30 times in the song’ it doesn’t matter. It’s not for her, it’s for the youth to hear. We’re doing it strictly for the youth, well not the youth but 35 years old and younger.

People will get different things out of it and you never know, you could get people outside of that demographic that might get something out of it as well…

That’s why we have a good chance I guess of not blowing up but actually being successful outside of this shit. Even if you don’t fuck with the spiritual shit you’re still going to like the beat. Herb Shutters is an awesome song regardless of whether you like spiritual shit or not. T.A.D.E.D is not spiritual really but it’s hidden there still. You could listen to our music and still enjoy it because we got the subliminal shit there and if you don’t to hear the subliminal shit you can just listen to the beat and the chorus and the flows.

So the tracks you’ve released so far, is that an indication of what people can expect from the mixtape and the other stuff that’s going to come out?

No, not at all. If there’s one thing about The Underachievers it’s that we’re not one dimensional. The secret to our entire thing is that we’re gonna be attacking the rap game from all different perspectives, from new perspectives that haven’t even been attacked yet to perspectives that people enjoy already. Ike you hear on So Devilish, Gold Soul Theory and Herb Shutters is that they all correlate but they’re different approaches to music. The mixtape is gonna be 16 tracks but all different kinds of music. We’ve only got four songs out but we’ve got 16 songs on that tape so you don’t really know to expect. It’s not like tooting our own horn it’s just that we try to successfully do that and put in a lot of different types of things. People are gonna get their 90sw flow shit, people are gonna get their New York flow shit, people are gonna get their conscious shit, their ambient shit, they’re gonna get all kinds of shit. We’re hitting from all different angles so no one can really say that ‘you are this’. We’re nothing, we just exist.

 Obviously as an artist you wouldn’t want to get associated with one certain sound or boxed in, it’s good to have a broader appeal.

Yeah people think you can only do one thing, whenever you try to step out of that they’re like ‘hold on, we don’t know him for doing that’. Now is the crucial time where we can establish what we can do and that we’re not one dimensional.

With online there are so many ways you can get yourself out there, with audio streaming and videos, there’s so many ways to present music.

The internet is the secret key to everything. It’s the secret key to the plans we have and why we’re going to be successful. Unless they censor it, which they probably will. With the internet I feel like it’s the 60s or other times of revolution in the history of the world. With the people’s revolution they got a lot of shit done at the time and with the Black Panther revolution and all the other cultural revolutions of the time, they got a lot of shit done without the internet. But if they had the power of the interne they would’ve had a much stronger chance to succeed and get their word around the world instantaneously. Now the world is really changing and we realise we’re all the same. The internet is so beautiful, I would get the internet tattooed on my chest. Yeah there’s a lot of shitty shit but the internet is the reason why independent music is able to succeed right now. It’s amazing, I’m so happy it was invented. As a community of people we’re definitely a lot smarter than 40 years ago. I think it’s a more intellectual approach. It’s just ‘yeah be free and happy’, we’re really getting things done from a rational standpoint.

How did the people from Brainfeeder find out about you, how did that deal come about?

Well we met this lady Sara Ajiri, she runs this agency called Eleven Eleven Agency. I guess she heard about our music through the internet buzz and we got to talking about some spiritual stuff. She was like ‘I’m gonna show your music to my friend Steve. It turned out Steve was fucking Flying Lotus. The next day we get a call from Flying Lotus, he was like ‘I really like your guys shit, you guys gotta come out here.’ He flew us out there we did a show, it turned out he’s an amazing guy and we kicked it often. We back over here [to New York] and kept working and before we knew it he sent us a contract and now we’re on Brainfeeder.

So your first album will be coming out through Brainfeeder?

Yeah, I want to say it’ll come out in 2013 but I want it to be the way it should be, even if that takes two to three years to build. We’re gonna release more mixtapes in the meantime.