Underground Coalition

When Worlds Collide

Fort Wayne, Indiana’s premier hip-hop collective, The Underground Coalition (known from here on out as The UC), offer up a record in When Worlds Collide that is almost instantly reminiscent of the now defunct Rawkus Records’ classic Soundbombing 2 compilation. That record gathered the best from the underground hip-hop scene of its time and somehow offered a playlist that was simultaneously diverse and cohesive. When Worlds Collide does the same thing. Blame DJ Polaris, who produced 16 of the album’s 17 beats, for that success.

The whole gang’s here. Joining Polaris are his Andromeda partner Brainstorm, Roc Vicious, Roleo, Barrage, 2RQ, Weather, Schizo, P.L. Lee, V.I.C., EDS, Muad’dib and even area powerhouse Fatima Washington. Featured on 11 of the record’s tracks, rightfully so, is Brainstorm, others coming and going where they fit. Together, Brain and Polaris are not just two of the hardest working hip-hop artists in the area, but two of the most passionate about their art. They know the history and they know the present. What they make, however, is something different. The sound here is both boom-bap and modern, an accomplishment not to overlook, and something you can credit to their long-standing devotion to hip-hop culture.

“Endyana” is sure to be a crowd pleaser, reminding me of the Can-I-Bus song “Get Retarded” with its simple yet effective beat and raw vocals. It’s one of those songs that had to be made – an anthem for a hip-hop city often overlooked due to its proximity to Chicago, Detroit and Cincinnati. Make no mistake: Hip-hop lives in Indiana, something this album documents and promotes very well.

Polaris’ beat for “Poetry,” featuring Barrage, Schizo, Roc Vicious, Roleo and Fatima on vocals, feels like an instant soul-meets-hip-hop classic. Like a number of Polaris’ beats, it’s simple yet perfect, no extra flash or gimmicks, just a solid beat – the type that never gets old. Schizo, one of my favorite area emcees, showcases her natural ability and charisma in this track. If you’ve not heard her solo record, Wednesday’s Tomorrow, you’d do right by hunting down a copy before it’s out of print.

The one beat produced by EDS, “Side Notes,” is another classic. It reminds me how much I’ve missed the guy’s positive and creative workaholic presence since he moved to Indianapolis a couple of years ago. Good to see him still working with his longtime Fort Wayne crew, despite the distance. The beat brings something out in Polaris, EDS and Brainstorm, who here all give some of the best verses I’ve ever heard from them. Some of the best verses I’ve heard out of Indiana. Same goes for Brainstorm’s verse on “One the Regular,” which he produced himself.

Songs flow from one to another, not in the style of the modern mix tape trend, but like old school hip-hop albums. When Worlds Collide is a great listen that will surely be a record to top for all involved. At 17 full-blown tracks featuring a huge number of diverse artists, it’s a wonder how this product is so cohesive. The beats. Gotta be the beats. Polaris’ compositions are so good, so well-produced. As long as he’s making music you can bet there will be local emcees trying to sneak into his studio with their notebooks. 

And as long as The UC are making records, I’ll be listening. (Greg Locke)

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