Hip-Hop's astonishing rise to prominence as arguably the preeminent musical and cultural phenomenon of the late 80s and 90s was founded on the importance of collectives. Scenes coalesced around key figures and labels. From the Dr Dre led West Coast G Funk sound, to the East Coast milieu centred around The Notorious B.I.G and carried on by the likes of Jay-Z, and the esteemed Cash Money records stable, MCs and producers with like minded ideas inspiring and sparking off each other is the collective spirit in which hip-hop thrives. The outstanding hip-hop album of the year so far is a prime example of collective spirit in perfect effect.

The Underachievers are a Brooklyn based duo attached to the Beast Coast collective. The Beast Coast scene is a loose grouping of four different New York based rap crews, the most illustrious of which so far is Joey Bada$$' Pro Era crew. The Underachievers are a far more interesting and cerebral proposition though than Bada$$' more trad reverential sound. The duo comprised of rappers Issa Dash and AK and the sound they make is a beguiling kind of narcoleptic, hazy reverie where all the oblique beats and left-field sounds combine to make a gloriously immersive lucid work on their debut mixtape Indigoism. This is music that is anti-aggressive. Instead, it positively revels in druggy mind warps and weirded out abstract textures.

The duo's main production team, The Entreproducers, revel in sound as as art, the mix of psychedelic tinged beats and mellifluous airy waves of electronics and slightly wonky natural instrumentation are akin to colour mixing and this experimental nature gives the collection a distinctly compelling nature. It's easy to see why the duo have been picked up by Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. Importantly, the duo's rhymes are just as proficient and the sedated abstract nature of the sounds serves to enhance their super speed rhyme skills. In terms of sheer musicality there is unlikely to be a better hip-hop release all year. Perhaps the best indication of The Underachievers bewitching sound is the distended beeps and bleeps of Gold Soul Theory.

17-year-old New Orleans rapper Mars Finesse is an artist operating entirely out with the highly commercial world of mainstream hip-hop, content instead to release a string of excellent mixtapes on a distinctly underground basis. On the evidence of his latest mixtape The Gold Watch Theory, It's difficult to understand why this music hasn't yet been jumped on. Finesse's sound is a bit retro but it's also undeniably accomplished and there is a lot of pleasure to be had in a mixtape that is crammed full with melodic accessible cuts and just the right amount of tension to remain on the right side of pastiche. The rolling, effortless flow of Juzhowedoit represents the sound of an extremely impressive fresh new talent.


Finally, for this month, it is about time Ill Communication celebrated the peerless Mello Music Group Label. Based in Arizona, the label's solid gold hit ratio is outstanding. Specializing in hip-hop that is brilliantly inventive and brimming with underground passion, Mello Music Group's artists all share a deep love of hip-hop in its truest form free from any gimmicks and brilliantly evocative of the genre's unique thrills. This column was first introduced to the label through the excellent If There Is Hell Below podcast presented by Rob Morgan and Callum Eckersley, which is a regular source of diverse underground hip-hop that is highly recommended.

For anyone with an ounce of interest in hip-hop, a visit to the Mello Music Group website is essential. One of their standout rappers is Quelle Chris from Detroit. Chris is responsible for one of this year's standout tracks with the old-school horn sampling 'Rappin Ass' in which he chastises the new breed of arguably faceless and clichéd 21st century rappers in an amusingly curmudgeonly fashion. Perhaps even better though is his latest track 'Long Tokes' a suitably somnolent piece of stuttering, woozy soul in which Chris drawls about "Daddy long Tokes." The track is a single from his forthcoming album Niggas Is Men that promises to be one of the years stand out hip-hop releases.