What’s the point of keeping it real when alternate realities are so much more fun? For new hip-hop super-group, The Mighty Underdogs, our world is one of hyper-reality where vacationing monsters have gunfights. Nothing’s harder than that, man.
The newly formed trio of hip-hop heavy weights from the West Coast—Blackalicious’s Gift of Gab, fellow Quannum compatriot Lateef the Truth Speaker and Bay Area producer Headnodic—release their debut collaboration, Dropping Science Fiction, on the other coast’s Definitive Jux.
Backed by a dizzying set of collaborators that include DJ Shadow, Mr. Lif, Akrobatik, The Alkoholiks’ Tash, Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na, Julian and Damian “JR Gong” Marley, The Mighty Underdogs tour through worlds and soundscapes that blur all settings. Album opener “Monster” is comic book evilness that powers up on a secret solution of mind-numbing lyricism at breakneck speed. The MF Doom-assisted “Gun Fight” is a wild west romp where Gift of Gab goes out in a blaze of revenge-fueled glory over the most rappified twang since Bubba Sparxxx’s Deliverance. Even the interlude, aptly dubbed “Doglude,” is an exercise in a cappella beat building that shows Headnodic—despite being the least known member of the trio—belongs in this hallowed company.
The Might Underdog pedigree is one bred for serious heads. Throughout Blackalicious’s 10-year run as indie rap elite, Gift of Gab has found himself atop numerous Top 10 lists. Whether it’s solo action or paired with Lyrics Born as Latryx, Lateef the Truth Speaker is a linguist gymnast of the truly impassioned variety. Lateef’s got big game experience, too, as his collaboration with Fat Boy Slim, “Wonderful Night” scored a Grammy nomination. Headnodic, an accomplished bass player and part of the forever heralded and endlessly funky Crown City Rockers, is ready for a busy 2008, as his musical partnership with Moe Pope looks to gain more than a few nods from the real hip-hop heads, in addition to his Mighty Underdog work. On Dropping Science, his productions run the gamut from anime-in-space laser fights to Timbaland-channeling sample sources and trunk-rattling bass.
So how did three loosely related but certainly solo minded artists come together for a piece of superhero super stories? While going through tracks from Headnodic for his solo album, Lateef found enough desperately desirable tracks to make an entire album. Since Lateef and Gab had been talking about their own collaborative project for longer than Souljah Boy’s been alive it just made good boom-bap sense.
With the three artists exhausted by hip-hop’s penchant for taking itself too damn seriously, they broke rules like rules were going out of style and allowed songs to be everything from violent to, gasp, silly. Completing the convergence of powers is Definitive Jux head honcho El-P. Having toured the indie rap circuit with Gab and Lateef for more than a decade, it’s a surprise that the three haven’t combined forces before. Call it par for the course, because with the Mighty Underdogs, one can only expect the unexpected.