For most, The City Under The City will be unfamiliar territory. L’Orange is making his Mello Music Group debut with his conceptual production for Stik Figa, a little-known rapper from Kansas. Think cynical, speakeasy lyricism and tortured, gin-soaked beats. The City Under The City plunges the listener into an underground world of harlequin-tinged abandon and disillusionment.
Every guest feature on this album is stunning and haunting. With 3 guest verses, “Decorated Silence,” is not your typical posse track. Cutting-edge MCs Open Mike Eagle, and the NC duo MindsOne make this one aching, reflective track. Other features include DJ Iron’s aggressive cuts on “We Were Heroes,” which will have people blowing up the turntablist’s inbox for scratches.
Amid inspired features, Stik and L’Orange end up looking wise beyond their combined experience with a polished album that plays well from start to finish. Thanks to Stik Figa’s astoundingly prolific pen, and L’Orange’s singular vision of the concept, The City Under The City is an unexpected and thoroughly original collaboration from two artists that seem primed for big things at Mello Music Group.
If suddenly, your surroundings seem unfamiliar as you listen to The City, then the creators of the album have done their jobs perfectly. At heart, this is art hip hop driven by a post-civilization narrative and boisterous, swinging beats in a minor key.