7L and Esoteric | 1212

Fly Casual (2010)
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 19, 2010
3.5 3.5 Stars

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Ten years ago, my guess is that not even 7L and Esoteric could have imagined they'd go on to build one of the most reliable catalogues in indie-rap history. Yet more than a decade in, the Boston duo can look back without a smidgen of shame. In addition to their joint arsenal, Esoteric has a celebrated clip of eclectic side projects that together warrant a box set. But solo triumphs aside, 1212 (named for having 12 tracks each of which can stand as 12" singles) reminds us that 7LES is a brand whose execution requires both assailants. 7L equips trusty boom-bap beats with modern subtleties; Eso engages throwback mode, cracking dozens of dynamic similes and smacking mainstream newjacks who couldn't hold his jock strap with a wheelbarrow. For its finest moment, 1212 delivers a reunion between 7L and Wu-Tang rock star Inspectah Deck, who appeared on the 7LES rookie EP, Speaking Real Words, in 1999. With 7L finessing synthetic strings and Esoteric flipping the tightest verse of his career, it becomes clear that, like their guest star, these two have spanned the universe, and they're now returning home to claim their throne.

  Topics: CD Reviews , hip-hop, Esoteric, 7L
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