The Mighty Underdogs - Droppin' Science Fiction
Rap supergroups have something of a chequered past, the few that have actually come to fruition have mostly been a disappointment. The Firm, comprising of Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature delivered a lacklustre self-titled effort, as did, Killah Priest, Canibus and Kurupt with their The Four Horsemen project. That's just two worth mentioning, many others don’t even warrant a name check. So you will forgive me for being ever so slightly sceptical at the prospect of another supergroup achieving something that, as yet, remains elusive, a truly great album.
The Mighty Underdogs are comprised of Gift Of Gab (Blackalicious), Lateef the Truth Speaker and producer Headnodic, all of whom are generally held in high esteem, as well as being critically lauded in the past. To swell the ranks and add muscle to Droppin’ Science Fiction, they have recruited a number of collaborators to aid them on their journey, including some real genre heavyweights.
Fresh from featuring on N.A.S.A.’s astonishing ‘The Spirit Of Apollo’, Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na finds time to lay down fresh rhymes on ‘War Walk’, a bouncing wrecking ball of funk-laden rap. Roni Size (that takes me back!)-sounding bass lines dominate the skipping beats of ‘Escape’, whilst the back to basics beats and scratches of ‘Laughing At You’ will hit the spot with hip hop purists everywhere. Having been at the top of his game now for nigh on ten years, Gift Of Gab demonstrates a lyrical flow and intelligence that mainstream hip hop is sadly missing.
Julian and Damian Marley, whose voices are scarily reminiscent of their legendary father, contribute vocals to the melancholy ‘So Sad’, a slow paced affair that also benefits from sampling the genius that is Bill Murray in its closing minutes. Break beat fans will be chomping at the bit at the mere mention of DJ Shadow, who supplies cuts on ‘UFC Remix’, the air of inventiveness around the track proving Shadow hasn’t lost his touch.
‘Gunfight’ is by far the stand out track on the album, featuring the underrated skills of MF Doom, each verse rises to new heights, which is as much a testament to Headnodic’s production skills as of the performers lyrical abilities - which are sparkling. If Droppin’ Science Fiction is to be remembered for anything in the years to come, the clever money will be on this slice of brilliance destined to destroy clubs and radio shows for the rest of the year round.
Dedicated hip hop devotees will find enough here to want to own it, others will need to investigate further to decide if it’s for them or not. That isn’t to say it isn’t a good album: it has its knock out moments, even one or two that are truly excellent, it's just not cohesive enough to function as an entire entity. Too many styles are conflicting against each other, ricocheting the record back and forth, at times leaving the listener slightly bemused. Saying that, it knocks the spots off of any other rap supergroup albums that have come before it and for that alone it deserves a world of praise.