Matty Wise takes UnderDawg and runs with it:

Surprise SurpriseUnderDawg (2007), Hip Hop

I will preface this review by pointing out that when I used to listen to rap I was familiar with classics like “Dog Shit” by ODB and “Back in the Day” by Biggie. That was back when I was in seventh grade. Things done changed.

Surprise Surprise’s UnderDawg is a self produced piece, and its first real song, the album’s namesake, starts off epically enough. I imagine it would have been something I listened to before a swim meet to pump me up as it is littered with cool synthesizer sounds like trumpet. At least, I think it’s trumpet. It even has awesome rhymes like “I would rather be hungry and poor / Than be someone else selling my soul.” … Uh yeah, so I wasn’t too into this album. I think it’s because Surprise Surprise doesn’t know what it wants to be. That, or they’re not very talented. I would prefer to think it’s the former.

It’s hard to tell if this group is trying to be underground or mainstream. Composition-wise, this resembles a lot of your mainstream conventional not so good stuff. There’s bass, beats, synth, and some piano that I’m pretty sure I could play. Rhythms hardly stray into anything complex, if ever at all. But then you have the lyrics which promote an underground movement. They talk about not selling out, being true to one’s self, yet then they make a crap ass song like “MaryAnn” that sounds like one of those songs no one dances to at a party. They even have the random annoying girl voice spliced into the song, and it just makes me shake my head wondering what urged them to make such badness with lines like “Hot so who’s that girl / hot she rocks my world / hot she be playing games / hot messing with my brain.” Perhaps they were trying to be funny, but in the end it just doesn’t work and comes off as another mainstream piece of garbage.

Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of the album goes. There are many more misses, and the skits almost always sound like poorly dubbed voices from Godzilla. Just listening to “WTF” was cringe worthy, yet it was kinda funny in that “Walker Texas Ranger” sorta way. The best songs are the ones that sound most conventional. “Music” is good sounding and a good look into Surprise Surprise’s passion, yet I can’t help but feel like I heard something like this before. I almost want to say this album is a case study in irony as a lot of what they say undermines their own work, but perhaps I’m being too harsh. It’s just that I can’t help but scratch my head that a band like this could say “hip hop ain’t dead, it’s right here y’all.”

matty wise