7L + Esoteric at the Middle East Downstairs, June 13, 2008
Even before MC Esoteric and DJ 7L took the stage upstairs at the Middle East Friday, the MC/hype man from their Fly Casual label accessorized himself in a way that spoke volumes about what we were in for: hanging from his neck was a golden Legend of Zelda cartridge for old-school Nintendo.
Anybody who has visited Pterovision — Eso’s video broadcast on YouTube, with Spider-Man action figures and Eso donning Cobra infantry garb — wouldn’t have been surprised by this and the other ’80s pop-culture references littered throughout the concert. Plus, the night was a belated release party for Pterodactyl Takes Tokyo, their latest joint, which samples ’70s and ’80s Japanese pop (music and assorted culture), and where commercials for Godzilla action figures (“Make him stomp! Pound his tail!”) are as abundant as Eso’s stream-of-consciousness flows.
The best moments came when Eso ran down his action-figure collection — from Silver Surfer to Storm Shadow — while wearing an X-Wing commander helmet during “General Zod.” But there was a lot more to like, plus — since Eso had regaled us earlier about where he copped most of those figurines — reminiscences about trips to the North Shore Mall and the Revere Flea Market. “Get Dumb” asserts that saying “G. Dubya Bush would never tell a lie” is as stupid as saying that “hip-hop started in Ipswich.” (This made 7L, who otherwise hadn’t looked up from the turntables all evening, crack a smile.) An unaccompanied freestyle about the Celtics and “Kobe falling behind at the line” was greeted with a joyous “Beat LA” fanfare; “God Less America” ended with Eso’s repeated assertions that “it was an inside job.” It was enough to make me forget that the dude rapping on stage wears Crocs.
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