If skills sold, truth be told, we’d probably hear Esoteric’s the Emcee of the Year. The reason I say that is this is just the first of three times we’re going to see Esoteric on the countdown, and, I mean, look how high up we are already! Here we essentially have another solo album by Esoteric, except it’s entirely produced by Stu Bangas rather than 7L or himself. I’m not too familiar with Stu Bangas, but his production on this album seems to mesh with Esoteric’s rapping just as well as 7L’s does. Eso’s performance on here is typical of him; sharp flows, high-density rhyme patterns, and lots of fun battle-styled rapping for the sake of rapping (my favourite type of rap). They also got some good guest features on here, including Joell Ortiz, Ill Bill, Madchild, some rappers I never heard before, and of course various Army of the Pharaohs members (I read that a couple of these tracks actually came from sessions for the upcoming AOTP album).
Overall this is another great underground hip-hop album from Esoteric, and the collaboration with Stu Bangas proved to be a good move. Eso’s performance is top notch as usual, and with appearances from Vinnie Paz, Apathy, Celph Titled, Planetary, Reef The Lost Cauze and Blacastan, we get a little taste of what to expect on the new Army of the Pharaohs album. It’s also good to see Eso stretching his reach and working with different artists. My only issue here is there are a couple tracks where Eso’s subject matter seems to be farfetched or not a good fit for that particular beat; like on “S.T.M.F.”, the beat sounds like some serious, darker rap that MF DOOM/Viktor Vaughn could’ve used to rap about his evil deeds, but Esoteric is rapping about poor communication through texting and social media. This isn’t a deal breaker though, the album still sounds good all the way through and the rhymes are tight!
My Grade (based on how well I connected with it, no disrespect if your experience was different): A-
Come back to my blog tomorrow to see which album or mixtape came in at #12 on the countdown!