The Masterminds graced the millenial boom of the underground in 2000 with the debut The Underground Railroad (Ground Control). Consisting of Epod, Oracle and Kimani, the New York trio lasted for two albums before splintering off. After the release of Masterminds' ambitous sophomore record Stone Soup on Kimani's Third Earth imprint, Kimani focused his efforts towards the label and his project with Mr. Len called Roosevelt Franklin. Third Earth carried on briefly with unheralded gems like Oddjobs' Drums, Jean Grae's Attack of the Attacking Things, Science Fiction's Walls Don't Exist and re-releasing Juggaknots' out-of-print classic Clear Blue Skies. But somewhere around '05, Third Earth music closed its doors. With it Roosevelt Franklin disappeared as a follow-up album to Something's Gotta Give remains unreleased.
Kimani and Tarik (2/3 of the original Masterminds) can't keep away from this rap shit. For 10 years they assimilated into society, living quiet lives without green room blunt smoke, crowds of hoodie-wearing underground heads with demos in their pouches, and groupies that were girlfriends of the dudes in hoodies. Masterminds return with Giant Antlers. Consider the group an elusive buck, the ultimate survivor that dwells deep in the forest in the thickest of brush, and is rarely seen. This is your first glimpse in 10-years to see how their antlers have grown.
With 18-years of friendship behind them, Kimani and Tarik take to Giant Antlers like rapping is second nature to them. The record sounds as though it was recorded on the same equipment Kimani owned in '02. Dusty and lo-fi, the levels are just below red, the sampling is liberal like Rjd2 never got his ass handed to him in lawsuits, and Slug and Murs make appearances like the groups are current tour mates, rather than old friends from a distant era.
Giant Antlers is available at the Masterminds' Bandcamp for $8.