“We didn’t really give a shit what anybody thought,” Esoteric says of the hybrid project. “We carved out our niche, we’re here, and we’ll do what we want.” “The record was so easy,” 7L adds. “There was no blueprint.” Indeed, the results bring to mind the big beats of Fatboy Slim and the synth grooves of Moby meeting up with Kool Keith to flash a middle finger at anyone who isn’t down with the new program. Kool Keith even makes a guest appearance, flowing on the fast-paced “Daisycutta.”
And though 7L & Esoteric do push the envelope in terms of both music and lyrics, A New Dope is their most accessible album yet — and their most varied. In “Reggie Lewis Is Watching,” Esoteric recounts playing basketball near Fenway as a teenager and spotting the Celtics star there watching with his wife. It’s set against an eerie, muffled backdrop with heavy scratching and a slowed-down old-school electric drum-kit beat. The lyrics keep the duo grounded on home turf: “Reggie Lewis watching with his dame/I remember Andre Lafleur, the Northeastern point guard threw me the rock so I could score/But I got rejected/Thought I got fouled/Father went wild/Almost got ejected/On an outdoor court/Ain’t that some shit/But basketball is a mouthy sport.”
On “Dunks Are Live, Dunks Are Dead,” a brief interlude separates the reggaetón-tinged first part from a Middle Eastern flute solo supported only by finger-snapping. Esoteric complements this second half with some spitfire word association: “Peeps saying the E’s crossed the line/Must’ve lost his mind/Got lost in time/He made a voyage to the desert sands and back/ Lost some fans and that made him a man to rap never.”
The embattled sentiment of that verse is reflected in the album’s cover art, which looks like an old boxing poster with a bright yellow background. So it wasn’t a total surprise when the duo emerged to the sound of the Rocky theme spliced with some drum ’n’ bass breakbeats at the Middle East CD-release show last month. His face hidden within the gold hood of a boxing robe, Esoteric bounced up and down before taking a seat on a stool while a card girl walked around the stage announcing the start of round one. An opening bell rang. The beat picked up, whereupon he whipped back the hood to reveal a Red Sox cap tilted to the side. Don’t count out 7L & Esoteric just yet.
On the Web
7L & Esoteric: http://www.7l-esoteric.com/
: New England Music News
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