Vincent Chen opens coverage on Surprise Surprise’s debut release, UnderDawg, in time-honored Ninja Pants fashion by, well, rambling for three paragraphs. Check it out:

Surprise SurpriseUnderDawg (2007), Hip Hop

The Surprise Surprise debut release UnderDawg does not shock and sounds how one would expect an independent Hip Hop record to sound: production is simple, lyrics are raw. A few delicious beats here, a nice hook there, and a few good lines are sprinkled throughout, but otherwise: lots and lots of filler. Not much exists to distinguish the group from the rest of the sea of artists trying to get their foot in the door.

That said, you can feel the heart put into the album. The skits don’t really work, but it lets you crack open a window and spy on the crew’s personality and sense of humor. And in this respect, the low-budget feel of the album works well. You can see the members putting the record together. And the end product is reflective of who they are and that they are not afraid to show themselves to the world. The critics out there are harsh I guess, and rightfully so. There’s a helluva lot of music out there for us audiophiles and we can only have so much time to sort through it all. We want to make sure we’re listening to the cream of the crop.

But we must remember that making music takes a lot of passion. You must battle not only external forces like labels, managers, being popular, selling records, hyping crowds, earning bread… but also internal issues such as supporting your fellow musicians, keeping everyone in the band happy with the sound and direction, and maintaining enough motivation to get through it all and create collective art. And you know what, no matter how many albums I have trashed and will probably bash later on our little site here at Ninja Pants… I nonetheless recognize every single note, lyric, and beat is a work of art that someone carries against the world’s criticism. It takes a lot of courage to be an artist.

“My Desire” and “Music” are the best tracks. They make you think about the music-making process and demonstrate how passionate these cats are about putting out good material. I chose to focus on this aspect of UnderDawg, but they have some other sides as well (of course). It’s just that none of the other ones are interesting at all.

vincent chen