The Underachievers - Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium (Review)

The Underachievers - Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium (Essence of Hip-Hop)

"Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium" is the debut album from Flatbush, Brooklyn hip-hop duo The Underachievers (which consists of emcees Issa Gold and AK). The album features a guest appearance from Portugal The Man as well as production from Ryan Hemsworth, Nick Leone and the Ruby Suns and others. It was released on August 12, 2014 via RPM MSC.

1) Luminescence - The first track on the album finds Issa Gold and AK trading off bars over a smoky beat with a distorted guitar sample and mellow drums. The beat is real nice and both emcees flow effortlessly over it, kicking some rhymes full of esoteric references while boasting about how ill they are on the mic. AK says it best when he raps -
"I be on top of prisms like fuck the system
Light shining through me, got Apex vision
Puff holy flowers, got ancient wisdom
Said the world is ours, but they ain't listen"
 This shit is really dope and is a great way to start off the album. - 4/5

2) Chrysalis - This was one of the singles released in promotion of the album and it's a banger. The beat is absolute fire, with an almost angelical sample looped up over hard hitting 808 drums that definitely bring the energy. The song still has a really dark feel despite the angelic sample and both Issa and AK sound perfect over it. This is one of my favorite tracks on here. - 5/5

3) Radiance - The Underachievers rap about how there is "no future in the slums" so they are "hitting the masses with music from the sun" over another crazy instrumental, this time with a more synth-y feel than the others so far. The beat is dope, though, and both emcees rip it. Another ill track. - 4/5

4) Caprice - This track finds AK the Underachiever and Issa Gold spitting distorted vocals over what might be the darkest instrumental on the album so far, with cryptic synths over deep bass. The project is giving me a sort of "E.1999 Eternal" vibe production-wise, which is great since that is one of my favorite albums of all time. Lyrically the song is just as good as the beat, with AK setting if off first and spitting
"Since my soul entered this armor
Recollect my ancient karma
While you attached to material aspects
My brainwaves extend way farther"
I'm really feelin this one. - 4.75/5

5) Incandescent - The beat on this cut is more intense than the previous track, with producer Ryan Hemsworth delivering a hard hitting instrumental full of frantic synths, rapid fire hi-hats and deep 808's. As far as the rhymes go, both AK and Issa come through and kick some more of their usual rhymes full of mystical references and street knowledge. Very dope. - 4/5

6) Sonorous - The Underachievers tell their listeners to "get up off your ass and go and get it" over another evil sounding instrumental. Similar to all of the other songs so far, the beat is banging and the rhymes mix spiritual substance with drug and street references. Nice. - 4/5

7) Metropolis - This was another of the singles released from the album and it's real good. The beat has a real drugged out feel, with a murky sample layered over head nodding drums, and both emcees rip it, rapping about everything from the shit that's on the radio today to more of their conscious, third eye rhymes. I'm really feelin' this one as well. - 4.75/5

8) Nebulous - The beat on this song raises the energy level of the album a bit, with Issa and AK spitting rhymes about not giving up on your dreams (among other things) over hectic keyboards, a vocal loop and trap drums. As on the rest of the project, the beat is dope and both emcees spit their asses off over it. - 4/5

9) Ethereal - The Underachievers kick some more conscious rhymes about trying to represent for their generation over a chopped up and distorted sample and furious hi-hats. Issa especially bodies this song as he spits -
"Represent for the new age message
Tryin' ta give my generation some leverage
Been a member of the dark remember
The fall of my soul, that's my November
Raise up into the light
It's only right that I lead the fight
I'm the sun up after the night
Giving insight to resurrect lives"
Very dope. - 4/5

10) Quiescent - The beat on this cut is probably the most traditional hip-hop instrumental on here so far, with an almost sunny sample looped up over head nodding boom-bap drums. The production is real nice and the rhymes are just as good, with both Issa and AK kicking some thoughtful and personal rhymes about religious hypocrisy and their quest for more knowledge. Nice. - 4/5

11) Felicity - This joint features The Underachievers kicking some more uplifting bars over a soaring sample that is similar in tone to the previous song (just with a more epic feel). The beat, by Nick Leone and the Ruby Suns, is stellar and the rhymes are the same. I'm especially feelin' Issa Gold as he sets off the track -
"They say you paving ways, make a change, but
How am I supposed to when these people slaves? but
Wait, I find the truth hidden inside my brain
Elevate, don't hesitate or watch them do the same"
Dope. - 4.25/5

12) Amorphous (featuring Portugal The Man) - The final song on the album finds Issa and AK kicking some more personal and heartfelt rhymes over another breezy instrumental in the same vein as the previous two. The beat and rhymes are dope and Portugal The Man does his thing on the chorus. Good way to end the project. - 4/5

 I'm going to rate the album

4.25 / 5

because it's really good. The production is stellar throughout, with most of the beats having a real dark vibe until the end of the album. The instrumentals range from ethereal samples/synthesizers over trap drums to more inspiring and epic beats near the end of the project without the album sounding all over the place. Lyrically the LP is just as good as the production, with both Issa Gold and AK ripping every track. Their rhymes are teeming with drug references and a few street bars, but they also incorporate tons of mythical and spiritual references as well. Due to this, the album feels more like an extension of the groups "Indigoism" mixtape than their "Lords of Flatbush" project, which was more of a "tape of bangers" than a real lyrical onslaught. If you are a fan of "Indigoism" like I am, you are going to love this album. For those of you who have never heard of The Underachievers, give this album a try - you might like what you hear.


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