Undergravity, the Adam Bomb & Mastermind After Cash duo from Yellowstone has never seemed to grasp the concept that the heyday of organ tinged organic rider music occurred somewhere between 1996 and 1998. The jazz influence runs deep in the group’s blood, Mac’s father sang background for Cameo & The Dramatics just to name a few but their soundscape is so embedded in a time period that they should be kings of Houston’s retro-aesthetic currently navigated by the likes of Amber London among others.
By making a hulking South Lawn Meets Yellowstone super trio with Houston’s long form freestyle impresario Dante Higgins, everything works. Higgins, no slouch when it comes to beat selection and obscure topics on a whim got to work within a soundscape that puts him back in a personal time warp. The result? The Freshest MCs, where Higgins verbose lyrics get bridged with Undergravity’s bottom heavy organ fused sonics.
The synergy between the three isn’t forced, rather natural. The world may figure Higgins to be the best rapper within the trio but when it comes to putting him in a rather manicured time space, his best gets fleshed out with nary the clutter. “Yellowstone B” gets all of three minutes to offer a proper eulogy to a deceased friend behind punched out drums, twinkling synths and 80s esque R&B piano strikes. Higgins & Undergravity outline plenty about the fallen Brandon Bryant while tossing in a bit of Bobby Womack’s “I Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much” and Higgins offering accurately slick kudos, “Mad because your freak ass baby mama tried to date him…”
What aggressive thoughts Higgins or Mac & Adam even have are nowhere to be found on the “Got To Be Free” reworked organ flutter that is “The Freshest MCs”. Then again, why should there be? On what should be something of a chest-thumping roll through the jungle slicing off heads, The Freshest MCs smokes its way through every argument and moment of discernment. What makes Higgins such a interesting character study that for all of his bravado of being one of Houston’s bright spots – he can still laugh at himself. On “What U Sayin’”, he harks back with such picturesque memory about riding that damn Mongoose of his back in ’95 listening to Do Or Die while Adam tries to make enough room on his own dick for haters to jump on as if there’s a wait list. The theme continues on “Fly On The Wall”, Corona bottles get emptied with consumption, Mac being a keen enough silent observer to understand everything and rolling guitars riding shotgun.
Focused and insincere at times, The Freshest MCs don’t touch upon thoughts of love. Instead, its running in the same Hype Williams fish-eyed vision Dr. Dre offered on 2001’s “Fuck You”, G-funk and all. On the crass and sarcastic “Probably Let Me”, the kick drums and snares get swallowed up by organ piano and Higgins amped over the same scenario Mike Epps offered Ice Cube in Friday After Next. How distinctly awkward does it get? We’re talking about a woman who’ll do whatever for a Taco Bell run and Adam doing enough mental math to make sure he doesn’t overspend. They aren’t after your chick but Undergravity & Dante Higgins calmly and carefully lay claim to crafting a southern fried retro tape, one that happens to neither overstep what they may have done on separate paths but enhance them instead.