Issa Dash is a man with a plan. Last year he approached his good friend Ak, the other half of the Underachievers, who had been rapping since age 11 with little success.
"I said, ‘Hey, dude, I think I came up with this intricate plan that could make you blow up,'" says Dash over the phone from New York City. His vision for the Flatbush, Brooklyn, duo was fitting for a couple of 90s-born musicians.
"It was to destroy the internet," he says. "I noticed a pattern in music and realized there are two main things you have to do: have wow-factor visuals and make good music that targets a specific demographic."
It didn't hurt that Dash has uncanny natural rapping ability. "Rapid-fire delivery" is one of the most overused phrases in hip-hop, but the outstanding characteristic of the Underachievers' debut 17-track mixtape, Indigoism - even more than the psychedelic lyrics and allusions to the third eye and spirituality - is the speed at which Dash and Ak spit their message.
"I've been an avid reader my whole life, so I have a decent vocabulary. That helps. Wanting to spread a message helps. Whenever I write a verse, I'm trying to say something," says Dash.
See Gold Soul Theory for a conscious, wise-beyond-his-years song about looking inward rather than chasing riches. (It's also one of the most addictive tracks of 2013.)
Signed to Flying Lotus's Brainfeeder label, they're at work on a new mixtape, Chapter 23, which will further the elevated, enlightened subject matter. ("There are 22 chapters in the Book Of Revelation," Dash tweeted in April.)
Meanwhile, Dash is trying to deflect pressure to hire a manager, a task he thinks he can handle himself.
"I came into the game with a business perspective. I'm just really a manager who happens to rap, I guess."
If you like the Underachievers, also check out Joey Bada$$ at Wrongbar, Saturday (June 15), 1 am, NXNE wristband or $15, or at Yonge-Dundas Square, Sunday (June 16), 8 pm, free; or Apt at Crawford, Friday (June 14), 8 pm, NXNE wristband or $12.