Underground Unleashed Vol. 1
An album by various artists
Executive Producer – Aaron Candelora
Review presented by Warren Peace
Listen to Underground Unleashed Vol. 1
When I learned of Underground Unleashed Vol. 1 I was immediately interested in doing a review because of my prior analysis of Cryptic Wisdom’s “Tides of War III” and previous listening experiences of several artists featured on this monster of a compilation album. I contacted the album’s executive producer, who contacted me back, and here is the result! Little did I know I would be writing the longest review since the beginning of The Write Reviews. Enjoy!
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1- We The Underground by Dubbs, Badluck, and Cryptic Wisdom (prod. by Hollywood Legends)
The first emcee on the scene of this compilation album is Dubbs, whom displays great microphone presence, a smooth flow, and plenty of punchlines. The hook is very catchy and captures the attitude of the track. Badluck brings more of an aggressive demeanor with his lyrics. The audience should find themselves nodding along around the halfway mark of Badluck’s verse as Badluck has a way of connecting with listeners with his rawness and blunt bars. Cryptic Wisdom comes onto the track with a slippery flow while dropping wordplay and swinging punch line after punch line. I really enjoy the beat as well. This is a fantastic opening track for Underground Unleashed Vol. 1 and is an easy choice for the Featured Tracks list.
2- Head Held High by Malaria, Mad Choppa, and Sleep Lyrical (prod. by Atomic Beats)
The instrumental has a great vibe to it that will make listeners want to bounce with the beat. Malaria comes through the speakers with a matter-of-fact, in your face verse. I admit, I did not expect a hook with singing on this one. It threw me off a little, but it is well written and sums up the message in “Head Held High” rather well. Mad Choppa gets more on the gore side of things while maintaining a similar in your face style that Malaria brought to the song. Sleep Lyrical seems to find balance between the different deliveries of the previous emcees and the chorus. Starting his verse by nearly singing the first few lines, he quickly finds the median and sticks with it. There are many similarities between the content in the different artists’ verses. This shows they were all on the same page. Everyone does really well on the track. I feel “Head Held High” barely misses being named a Featured Track as there aren’t any truly jaw-dropping lines for me, but to say this isn’t a good song would be foolish. “Head Held High” is a great addition to Underground Unleashed Vol. 1.
3- When It Goes Down by Mid West Monsters (prod. by Jehjuh)
First, let me say I am guilty of not being aware of everyone that is included in the Mid West Monsters group and I apologize to the group for not mentioning each emcee by name. That being said, this track starts off right– by bringing a banging bass line with attention-grabbing lines. After a couple of bars the beat picks up and goes harder. The first verse includes some punches mixed into a firm flow. The hook will stick with listeners and adds another layer by switching up the delivery. The second verse brings an aggressive flow and shares hardcore punches with the audience. The last verse features great multiple syllable rhymes and continues launching hardcore punchlines before finishing everything with a fantastic closing bar. Underground Unleashed Volume 1 adds another Featured Track with “When It Goes Down”.
4- Klan of Monsters by Sleep Lyrical and GrewSum (prod. by Ear2ThaBeat)
“Klan of Monsters” begins by easing into everything. The music had me moving to its rhythm almost immediately. Sleep Lyrical opens up his verse by naming some of my favorite horror movie bad guys. His flow of words is on point with the beat. His verse is a bit on the storytelling side but delivers some punches as well. The chorus will probably resonate with the audience, but I feel would have benefitted from a rougher tone of voice. GrewSum has a great setup and execution with his opening bars. He includes some solid punchlines throughout his verse. This one teeters on the edge for me, and ultimately squeezes its name among the Featured Tracks for the album.
5- Ill Terminology by Mumm-Ra, Session 9, Split Divo, Oskino, and Big City (prod. by Big City)
This beat involves a lot of energy that is sure to give people a hyped-up feeling. “Ill Terminology” leads off with a crazy chorus that is catchy once you have the words memorized, but it will take several listens for that to happen. Maybe a little on the simpler side with the hook with complex verses would have more of an edge here. Maybe not. Session 9 starts the first verse in a great way by grabbing the ears of the audience. A few punchlines connect as his smooth flow rolls with the music. Split Divo uses the second verse to showcase well written multiple rhyme schemes in his fantastic flow. He displays solid storytelling skills and adds an impressive vocab for seasoning with the bars he’s cooked up. Next on the track is Oskino. Oskino’s flow is definitely on point, but his complexity is lacking, which seems to go against the main idea of the song. Big City takes the last verse and runs with the instrumental he’s created. Big City has a unique sound to his delivery and his verse really picks up in content when he picks up speed. Big City is still not as lyrical as Session 9 and Split Divo, but he does lift it back up a level. Overall, I really like “Ill Terminology” and I am sure a lot of people will enjoy it too, but the track just falls short of my Featured Tracks for Underground Unleashed Vol. 1.
6- 2 Bodies by D-RaNGD, Donnie Menace, and Tha WiKiD onE (prod. by Atomic Beats)
The music for “2 Bodies” is captivating, in my opinion. The hook finds a way to get trapped in your head, but from the very first time I heard it, I was confused on why you would call someone to have you picked up picked up when you have a pick up truck…? D-RaNGD displays good storytelling ability while keeping a smooth, yet mostly simple scheme of rhymes, flow throughout his verse. I feel he should’ve ended on a stronger note. Donnie Menace has the second slot and seems on a slightly different page during the course of his verse, which speaks about bodies being in the trunk of a car and kind of tells his own story. Donnie does bring some amazing wordplay that caused me to replay the track. Tha WiKiD onE is on the last verse and wraps up “2 Bodies” with a tale of his own. Stellar storytelling skills that include good imagery and use of details lock in the the audience while a fluid flow maintains the hold on that attention. “2 Bodies” is a nice addition to the compilation album, bringing a fresh concept to this collection of tracks.
7- Follow Us Down by Samson Samson, DurtE, and Legion (prod. by Sonoma Beats)
“Follow Us Down” catches the audience with its chorus, which might overdo the last syllable stretching of each line just a hair, before Samson Samson slams everyone with a really good message. His vocab and flow keep things interesting; his imagery providing an edge. DurtE has a vocal sound that can be picked out of a crowd, as he displays when he grabs the audience’s attention on the second verse. His presence behind the microphone is felt as he approaches the track in a similar way to Samson Samson, as does Legion when he comes in for the final verse. Legion’s flow has more of an emotional delivery within his words. I have a feeling “Follow Us Down” will connect with listeners, and that pushes it over into the Featured Tracks.
8- Annie Wilkes by Will Smith aka Trial (prod. by Beatg33ks)
Interesting introduction, bringing something different and fresh to the album. Trial develops a story for the audience during the course of “Annie Wilkes”. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the chorus. Trial does give us a cool concept for the song, though. A few of the lines and rhyme schemes feel a little forced, and mentioning stuff like her committing suicide after killing you, for example, throws me off while listening. How would you know she committed suicide? From that perspective, you wouldn’t have any knowledge of that. A little patchwork would make “Annie Wilkes” a memorable song.
9- I Love Blood by Legion (prod. by Ear2ThaBeat)
The instrumental plays an intense, quickened melody for a bit before Legion rips into the opening verse with a hardcore style and imagery of gore. He even ties a little wordplay into his smooth flow. Other than the repetitiveness of the word ‘Blood’, which does get somewhat tiring by the end of the song, the hook is catchy and enjoyable. Legion returns on the second and last verse, continuing the hardcore approach. His displays solid transitional rhyme speed skills throughout “I Love Blood”. Underground Unleashed has another Featured Track within its confines.
10- Legend by Tha WiKiD onE (prod. by Anthony Limit)
Tha WiKiD onE surprised me with “Legend’. He spits a superb stack of bars with confidence, showing off his multiple syllable schemes while dipping into some imagery of gore. I feel the hook will be hit or miss with the audience, but the manner of delivery will entice people to enjoy it. He closes on the final verse with a continuation of the first verse, yet kicking it up a notch with the description and feeling behind his flow. “Legend” is the sixth Featured Track out of ten, so far. There’s still ten more tracks to go.
11- Blood On My Hands by Sleep Lyrical (prod. by Life Or Death Productions)
The music for “Blood On My Hands” has a different sound than anything heard before on the album. A refreshing change of pace. The hook can find its way stuck in your head, but is also a little confusing at first. Sleep Lyrical spins a yarn while bouncing between a quick and slower speed of delivery smoothly. The imagery and detail are pretty solid as the song progresses. I feel the way everything is presented, overall, is going to leave people wondering what exactly is going on. The concept is great, but I feel that missing connection costs “Blood On My Hands” a Featured Track spot.
12- Run For Your Life by Mad Choppa, GrewSum, Madd Maxxx, and Dubbs (prod. by Atomic Beats)
I am really felling the instrumental. It has a bit of a video game vibe and the bass hits hard. Mad Choppa kicks everything off with a little comedy before adding some storytelling with a touch of vivid imagery. Dubbs delivers a hook with a different feel than any previous track, and I enjoy it. Madd Maxxx also dips into storytelling by weaving his own tale. He does self hype a bit and kind of skips around in the story, distracting listeners from the main focal point of the verse. GrewSum concludes with a story if his own that includes some great detail and imagery of his own, although I have never heard of fighter jets flying over houses in a situation like that. Hearing that made me chuckle. “Run For Your Life” is a solid track on Underground Unleashed, just falling short of the Featured Tracks list.
13- Holy Water by GrewSum, Bloke C, and Playboy the Beast (prod. by SoulBlade)
The beat for “Holy Water” has a snake charmer type of sound to it. GrewSum brings some gore with a hardcore angle to the first verse, including good vocabulary while spitting his vocals in a timely manner. I feel the same way about this hook as I do for “I Love Blood”. Bloke C’s multiple rhyme schemes aid in his strong flow and solid microphone presence on the second verse. Playboy the Beast locks down the final verse with a nice double time flow and a good mixture of punchlines and metaphors. The track closes out with a couple more rounds of the chorus.
14- Paranormal by Samson Samson, Kung Fu Vampire, Malaria, and Rhapture (prod. by Allrounda)
This is my type of beat. A kind of eerie, kind of futuristic vibe moves the music along. Samson Samson enters the track with a fast pace flow that gets stronger as he glides through his verse. It is nice to hear a female’s voice on the album, and Rhapture gives the audience a wonderful delivery on the hook. Kung Fu Vampire begins his verse with an opposite pace to what Samson Samson displayed but steps the rhythm up about halfway through his verse. I felt he could’ve came stronger with his bars. Malaria rounds out the verses with a strong, solid presence while building on his hardcore approach to the track.
15- Nothing Matters by Samson Samson, Sleep Lyrical, and Dubbs (prod. by Beatg33ks)
“Nothing Matters” is my favorite song on the entire album, and it could simply be my favorite because of the chorus alone. This beat is banging and the hook, which is very well written, rides it perfectly. This is exactly the type of track an emcee is supposed to shred. Samson Samson has the opening verse again, spilling out rhymes with a quickness while throwing some punches along the way. Sleep Lyrical has a noticeable confidence on the mic, connecting with some punchlines as he brings some hardcore imagery to the audience. Dubbs has the hardest bars on the track as he provides a flow that bounces to the beat, some appealing imagery, and ends his verse on a really strong note. The Featured Tracks just gained another one from Underground Unleashed.
16- Struggle by Murda D, Legion, and Renigade (prod. by Hypenotic Beats)
Murda D steps on the scene with an emotional verse. He uses metaphors well in his bars and brings a strong closer to his round on the track. The chorus has a great rock and roll vibe while masking the repetitive nature of the word ‘struggle’ really well. Legion also involves emotional bars, but switches between nearly singing and rapping which gives me the feeling he isn’t sure how he wants to approach the song. I really like the overall sound of this instrumental. Renigade blazes onto the third verse with a much quicker flow and utilizes good description, metaphors, and an extensive vocabulary before ending with some great bars. “Struggle” isn’t going to have to fight to hit the Featured Tracks.
17- The Truth by The Hero Clique and Komatose (prod. by Hypenotic Beats)
The music for “The Truth” has an ‘on edge’ feel to it. The audience gets a matter-of-fact approach on the first verse. He paints a good picture while using solid multiple syllable rhyme schemes to control a smooth flow. The hook is well written on this one, but is brought to listeners in a rather plain fashion. The second verse explains some inner struggles through metaphors and displays a great presence on the microphone. Komatose decides to use more of a simple style flow and great description when relaying his issues of conflict, but I felt he could have came harder with his verse. The chorus repeats to finish out the song.
18- Lost by Mumm-Ra, Session 9, GrewSum, and Badluck (prod. by Big City)
“Lost” has an entirely different feel than anything else on Underground Unleashed. The hook is catchy with a smooth delivery of the vocals. Mumm-Ra has a quick flow that is on point, but his verse seems to lack some direction. Session 9 has more direction in his section, though it seems like his vocals are low. GrewSum bring a more emotional approach, speaking of inner struggles with past decisions. Badluck is last up on this round of emcees with a real to life set of bars and a grounded delivery in his vocals. With four emcees on two verses, “Lost” provides a different structure than most collabs to keep everything interesting.
19- Make It Out Alive by H8TRiD, Steve Collins aka Zero, and Optymus (prod. by SoulBlade)
I really enjoy the intensity and emotion brought in the chorus for “Make It Out Alive”, until the actual part that says ‘make it out alive’. I don’t like how that is presented at all, to be frank. H8TRiD speaks on struggling with self-disappointment while maintaining a solid flow with a real to life approach. Steve Collins aka Zero has the second verse and tries to take HATRiD’s lead, but kind of bounces around without really developing on some stuff. He does showcase a solid flow though, and his lines have plenty of relatable content for listeners. All in all, “Make It Out Alive” is a good addition to the album.
20- Jumper by Playboy the Beast, Badluck, and Crossworm (prod. by Chaotic Melody and Crossworm)
This instrumental is one of my favorites on Underground Unleashed. Playboy the Beast makes his presence known on the first verse. His bars are full of metaphors, punchlines, and his flow stands out over the beat while still finding a way to fall in line with the music. The hook is very catchy; a great way to end the album because it will stay with people long after they finish listening. Badluck takes control with the second verse. I thought his delivery stood out and his flow helped push the in your face style he brought with him. Last, but not least, Crossworm comes through the speakers. His quick flow packs punches, metaphors, and intensity. “Jumper” closes out Underground Unleashed Vol. 1 with its final Featured Track.
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We The Underground, When It Goes Down, Klan of Monsters, Follow Us Down, I Love Blood, Legend, Nothing Matters, Struggle, and Jumper.
The Write Up
First thing’s first, I know how difficult it is to get this number of tracks together with this number of artists. Underground Unleashed Vol. 1 pulled it off, and made a mark while doing so. Underground Unleashed Vol. 2 has a lot to shoot for in terms of surpassing this album. The audience should grasp how the majority of this album is hardcore gore and struggling with self-issues. Talented emcees lace fundamentally sound and entertaining lyrics over twenty well orchestrated instrumentals. There are very few albums with great beats from beginning to end, especially twenty songs deep. Underground Unleashed Vol. 1 achieves some really good stuff, overcoming obstacles along the way. Not only will this be in regular rotation for me, but I will be checking out these artists on an individual basis in the future. Understanding how much of a mammoth of a project this is, it is not hard to give kudos to everyone involved in this project. Hopefully Underground Unleashed Vol. II will be coming soon!
(4 out of 5 stars)
The artists on “Underground Unleashed Vol. 1” were selected to be including in our Featured Emcees!
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Aaron Candelora can be contacted on Twitter.