Late-1960s violence inspired The Rolling Stones‘ “Gimme Shelter”: It was written four days after Meredith Hunter was murdered at the Altamont festival in 1969. “Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away,” Merry Clayton urges on Let It Bleed‘s opening track.
In 1995, Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone “That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It’s apocalypse.” The tracks’s resonance over the past 44 years can be credited, in part, to its instrumentals, so it comes as little surprise that Brooklyn hip-hop duo the Underachievers sampled the song in “The Proclamation.”
Utilizing the eery opening vocals and Keith Richards’ twangy guitar, the production work on “The Proclamation” nods to both the timelessness of the Stones and a more hard rock-influenced direction for the Underachievers. As Issa Dash tells Rolling Stone, “I love the Stones because of what they represented. . . They were on the side of revolution. Not on the political side so much, but on the social side – the side of the youth.”
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The Underachievers – Issa and his counterpart, rapper Ak – take their “elevated souls” seriously: Their debut mixtape Indigoism is laid over trippy beats and references psychedelics, third eyes and expanding their minds. “We’re heavily influenced by Sixties culture and the Sixties mindset,” says Issa. “The Proclamation” is the first track off of an upcoming EP. The beat comes from Texas producer Nick Lewis and was hand-picked by Ak and Issa out of hundreds of fan-made hooks. Issa says the track “fit with our style, because we like a lot of real instruments in our music. And what’s better than guitar from a legendary group?”
Unlike Jagger and Richard’s message of menace, the Underachievers’s lyrics are positive: “All your life they said you ain’t gonna be shit/Pick it up now and watch the tables switch/Reality is yours my n**ga, create it,” goes the chorus. Says Issa: “I’m really just trying to elevate my generation. I say that because moving into the future I think that we’ll inevitably expand our genre of music from just being hip-hop to [being] more experimental.”