Esoteric & Stu Bangas
A quick perusal of Esoteric’s eclectic discography disputes the notion that he’s simply a battle rapper; he’s a dynamic, conceptual and intelligent lyricist, one who just happens to use those powers for delivering highly potent doses of hardcore East Coast boom-bap when necessary. That time is here with “Machete Mode,” a full-length collaboration with producer Stu Bangas that finds both artists at the top of their game, even if the odds are rigged in their favor. As with DJ 7L, Eso’s chemistry with Stu is outstanding throughout: The blood-roiling keys of “State of War” or “Bounty Hunters” offer him a chance to show off his punch lines and wordplay (“you beating me is unlikely/ like a Paula Dean special on collard greens directed by Spike Lee”). Eso’s considerable network of fellow underground all-stars — Blacastan and Reef The Lost Cauze sparkle on “Ease Up,” while Celph Titled, Apathy, and Vinnie Paz combine to cause “The Danger” — are also recruited to bolster the attack. It’s unapologetic for its narrow scope, but Eso will have plenty of time to dive into his pathos on the next album. Like the titular weapon, this goes right for the kill.
Essential “The Danger”