Mighty Underdogs - Everyone Loves An Underdog
Comprising sizzling MCs Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truth Speaker and Headnodic, The Mighty Underdogs may have the most modest moniker in rap. But as the trio impressed upon 3D’s Fat Tony, when they play OAF they still plan to hit the crowd with fire.
The Bay Area has produced some great rappers over time and now three of their finest have teamed up to form hip hop supergroup The Mighty Underdogs. MCs Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, Lateef The Truth Speaker and supreme Crown City Rockers beatsmith Headnodic make a powerful trio, and their debut album Droppin’ Science Fiction has just hit.
Gab and Lateef had worked together under the broader Quannum Projects umbrella previously, as well as on the dope tune Go Left with E Da Boss more recently. Lateef and Headnodic were working on some songs together, and Gab and Headnodic had already talked about working together, so the group just formed naturally. “About two years ago Lateef gave me a call and said 'yo, I got these beats from Headnodic, they're blazin' you should get on 'em',” explains Gift of Gab, “and I started writing to them and we were just, y'know, why don't we just do a record- The chemistry was flowing so well. The album just started to create itself, y'know.”
In late 2007 they put out The Prelude EP, independently, as a little taster before the full album dropped. “At that point we had the album damn near done, and the songs on The Prelude were songs that we really loved but didn't necessarily, cohesively, make the record.” Then Def Jux got wind of the project and signed them up for the full-length album.
The signing wrought considerable changes to the record. Clearing samples is becoming a nightmare business for hip hop labels, original sources are demanding crazy money, so many have decided it's not worth the trouble. “We couldn't use any samples on the record any more,” relayed Headnodic, the producer and musician of the group. “So it actually forced me personally to have to replay every single sample. They were like jazz records, funk records, ‘80s electro records to big band records. From that though we got to take care of each instrument one at a time and do exactly what we really wanted to do. It was a whole lotta work but it ended up opening up how good the record could sound.”
The big tune off Prelude, Gunfight, that featured MF DOOM, was fused with a bluesy, rock n roll feel. Gab elaborates on the different textures and approaches the trio have gone for. “It goes in a lot of different directions. The music tells the stories as well as the lyrics, the music told me and Lateef where to go. But I think the dope thing about this record is that the range in itself is what makes it cohesive.”
The next time they hit our shores we will have the chance to hear the Mighty Underdogs tracks. “The way we're doing it out there is kind of like Blackalicious presents or featuring the Mighty Underdogs. Lateef is gonna come out during the middle of the Blackalicious set and we're going to introduce the Mighty Underdogs, and then we're going to hit them with fire!” the good friends break into peals of laughter, “yeah, hit them with songs you know!”
WHO: The Mighty Underdogs
WHAT: Droppin’ Science Fiction through Inertia / Play Oxford Art Factory
WHEN: Out now / Tuesday 7 October