7L & Esoteric discover A New Dope
George Andrinopoulos, 30, and his wordsmith partner, Seamus Ryan, 31, have been doing their best to keep old-school-style hip-hop alive in Boston and beyond since they first met, in 1992. As DJ 7L & Esoteric, they’ve been instrumental in building and maintaining a thriving local hip-hop scene and keeping Boston on the rap map. Yet after almost a decade and a half, it didn’t seem that even their love for golden-era hip-hop could continue to sustain them. When discussions began for their A New Dope (Baby Grande) in October of last year, they say, they were burnt out, sick of music, sick of the industry, and sick of themselves. They’d spent most of 2005 on the rise, opening for up-and-coming underground stars like Fort Minor and Jedi Mind Tricks across the country and staying clear of the studio. They’d even performed overseas. But they were drifting apart in their tastes, and they hadn’t played a Boston show in almost two years.
HYBRID PROJECT: The duo seemed to be drifting apart, but when they got together to compare solo projects, the new album was born.
All that was about to change. But first, some history. When 7L & Eso hit the scene, old school hip-hop was flourishing; as the ’90s went on and it began to fade, they kept it alive, offering a refreshing old-school alternative to the East/West Coast gangsta wars that swept the nation and ruled the charts. Along with Mr. Lif and rap veteran Edo G, they created a Boston sound. It wasn’t until 2001 that they released their debut full-length, The Soul Purpose (Direct); that was followed by 2002’s Dangerous Connection (Brick), with guest appearances by Beyonder, J-Live, Vinnie Paz from Jedi Mind Tricks, and Apathy. They signed a deal with the expanding indie Baby Grande and took their raw brand of old-school stylings national with 2004’s DC2: Bars of Death, that one populated by underground heroes like Army of the Pharaohs, Demigodz, and MainFlow as well as Boston vets Beyonder and KT & Uno the Prophet.
But by October of last year, 7L was already several weeks into work on a solo album. He’d started writing raps that diverged from the braggadocio that had become his calling card — the “how smart I am, how fresh I am, my shit is better than yours” kind of boasting, as he puts it during our three-way conference call. Meanwhile, Esoteric, who’d always stuck to MCing, was starting to create beats of his own — more experimental, instrumental recordings inspired by the ’80s synth tunes he’d been listening to. A break-up appeared imminent.
“We were a little burnt out, doing the same thing for so long,” 7L recalls. Esoteric concurs: “We had had it up to our necks with what we were doing.” Still, they remained good friends. Esoteric told 7L he was preparing to record raps of his own over synth-heavy tracks. 7L admitted that he too was in uncharted waters, using a lot of synthetic beats and experimenting with sound. They met up to show off their new works to one another and . . . A New Dope was born.
: New England Music News
, Entertainment, Hip-Hop and Rap, Music, More