7L & Esoteric - 1212

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After four years of solo and side projects, 7L and Es reunite with perhaps one of their most sonically diverse and lyrically driven efforts to date, 1212.

Boston has always been on the cutting edge of underground Hip Hop music. From trailblazing artists like Edo G and the late Guru to more contemporary names like Statik Selektah and Slaine, Beantown has kept its finger firmly in place on the pulse of the underground.


Despite these artists’ significant contributions to the Hip Hop game, perhaps one of Boston’s most heralded underground Hip Hop groups is 7L & Esoteric. Since their 2001 debut The Soul Purpose, the duo have left ears ringing with their combination of hard-hitting beats and super-lyrical rhymes. Now, after four years of solo and side projects, 7L and Es reunite with perhaps one of their most sonically diverse and lyrically driven efforts to date, 1212.

From the beginning of the album’s epic opening track “Retrospects,” it’s clear that 7LES mean business. Es jauntily flows over 7L’s thunderous kicks and snares and unflinching guitars with a veteran finesse, filling in newcomers about the duo’s storied history in the game. And of course, Esoteric is back in business when it comes to talking shit and throwing lyrical haymakers. Songs like “No Shots” find the emcee at his shit-talking best as he takes aim at perceived newbie’s like Drake and Wiz Khalifa.

At the same time however, perhaps Esoteric’s finest lyrical moment come on the more concept-oriented tracks. On the song “The Handle,” he spits with rapid-fire precision alongside the legendary Sadat X, as the two lyricists go into ESPN Classic mode and reminisce about their favorite basketball players. Similarly, “I Hate Flying” is a slyly ironic and yet surprisingly nerve-racking trip. His attention to detail in both songs is a testament to his vast ability as an emcee and growth as an artist since 2006’s A New Dope.

While 7LES more than hold it down on solo tracks like “New Rapper,” “Zoo” and “Aneurysm,” the collaborations featured on 1212 are truly something to behold. The Boston duo enlisted a bevy of fellow underground luminaries for some head- knocking, boom-bap action. The epic “Bare Knuckle Boxing” harkens back to 7L and Es’s debut album as Es, Ill Bill and Army of the Pharoahs fam Vinnie Paz and Reef The Lost Cauze lay out a lyrical beat-down over one of the album’s grimiest beats. Similarly, Es and Demigodz/AOTP alum Celph Titled tear mics apart over a funky bass-heavy beat on “Run This.” 7LES even succeed when they extend themselves beyond their own camps, verbally sparring with the left coast’s Evidence and the Alchemist on “Drawbar 1-2” . Yet perhaps the album’s best collaboration is “12th Chamber” with the Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck. Linking up for the first time since “Speaking Real Words,” the two emcees sound triumphant rocking over a fantastic violin sample.

1212 isn’t exactly perfect, however. A few songs, including “For My Enemies,” fail to do the rest of the album’s numerous moments of brilliance the proper justice. Similarly, some of the album’s production is not quite up to par given 7L & Esoteric’s illustrious track record. Despite the incredible drum programming, 7L & Esoteric’s joint beat for “No Shots” features a hackneyed groove that sounds more like an Ed Wood movie than a Hardcore Rap record. Similarly, for a song that features super-producers the Alchemist and Evidence, Esoteric and DC the Midi Alien’s “Drawbar 1-2” is overly simple and devoid of tension. Yet a few less-than-perfect beats barely leave a scratch on 1212, as the duo kicks it into high gear on tracks like the menacing “Zoo” and subtle “The Handle.”

After a six year absence that left fans questioning the duo’s future, 7L & Esoteric do not disappoint on 1212. Both parties sound more focused and able to stylistically branch out into new musical territories. Let’s just hope we don’t need to wait another half a decade for a new release from two of Beantown’s best.

29 Comments

  • TheRealFree

    Ya'll some crack headz on this site straight rockstars. The Most Rotten is the best track on this album. Statik Selektah is one of the best producers in hiphop right now you dumb phucks. Apollo Brown, Marco Polo, MoSS, Oddisee, Jake One, IDE, DJ Connect, Maker, Tempermental, Madlib, ALC, DJ Muggs, Necro, Q Unique, Sean Strange I mean I could go on and on who's the best in producing. DJ Premier is a Legend!! R.I.P. J Dilla 1212 is a solid album and is well worth the mula

  • licky boom boom

    eso was super lyrical on this one and 7l laced it.

  • big diesel spit regal

    lyricism at its finest

  • FUCKYOUfuckboy

    THere are a couple tracks that suck ass. Like "For My Enemies"...well, that's OK. But "Drawbar 1-2" sucks dick. That beat is so garbage. "The Most Rotten" is garbage too. Another garbage Statik Selektah beat, surprising...album shoulda been strictly 7L on the boards.

    • X

      You don't know shit about shit. For my enemies is by far one of the best tracks on the CD. There is no other track on the CD that you could describe as "fun" and that is what hip hop is all about. Drawbar beat was so hot that Alc wanted to rap on that. Do you how dope of beats Alc makes????? For him to go out of his way just to rap on the album says a lot. The most rotten is so so but it works. The whole thing is pretty solid and works, I definitely recommend you check out the new video for Retrospects.

  • poster

    BRINGIN' IT BACK ESO!

  • balls

    Yo, I just CANT EMPHASIZE how ILL the CELPH TITLED album is. We haven't heard production like this since the 90's, man. WOW!!!!! COP That SHIT!!!

  • balls

    This album is ill, but not nearly as good as I thought it would be. I thought it was gonna be more of the grimy sound that 7L and Eso normally bring; like their first album "The Soul Purpose" EVERY beat was BANANAS. Even the Dangerous Connection albums were insanely good production-wise. I think 7L shoulda done this WHOLE album. But tracks like "Bare Knuckle Boxing" and "ZOO" are ill as fuck. That's the sound I expect from these dudes. Also, if you haven't heard the "Moment of Rarities" album, THAT IS A MUST COP. by the way, THE NEW CELPH TITLED AND BUCKWILD ALBUM IS DISGUSTING. ALL LEFTOVER BUCKWILD BEATS FROM THE 90'S WITH CELPH RHYMING OVER THEM?? U KIDDIN ME?? DX, you betta review that shit, becuz it is fuckin insane! NINETEEN NINETY NOW, muhfuckas! ILL ass title!!!

  • LamarMatic

    Ties the 1st place for my favorite album this year with PackFM. The production is so dope, love No Shots (nice shots taken at some of these mainstream pop-rap dudes), love the tribute to NBA in the 90s on "The Handle". There isn't an option to vote 4,5, but anyway this is a 5 for 2010.

  • bios

    i preferred New Dope and Egoclapper but this shit is good too.

  • Damien Juen

    real hip hop at its finest...the track with Inspectah Deck is simply amazing!

  • post

    whaaaat...NEW MIXTAPE! www.datpiff.com/Mic_Heist_Scene_Of_The_Crime.m160412.html

  • The White Rapper

    ESO and 7l do it again. Great album with great collabos. Some seriously deep bass recorded on this album. A must have for ALL rap fans! TWR

  • The White Rapper

    ESO and 7l do it again. Great album with great collabos. Some seriously deep bass recorded on this album. A must have for ALL rap fans! TWR

  • EddieMurrrphy

    their real debut was in 98 on speaking real words ep. that was the first release. and the first time the track "speaking real words" w/ inspectah deck appeared. figured id give the true facts, it is a hip hop "news" site...

  • mic

    punchline heavy + fire tracks = winner

  • sahdiddy

    this album bangs start to finish

  • deceptshun

    Best release of 2010. (so far)

  • BEANZ

    "I Hate Flying" is my favorite. He carries the theme the WHOLE time over a dope beat.

  • aofn

    Got this album a week or so ago its a great album def worth buying...

  • 718rob

    I haven't liked 7L & Esoteric in 10 years, but after reading this... I think I just may buy it.

  • TheRapBox

    Good fucking album.. bout time you start reviewing good material. I hope you guys get to review Celph's new joint aswell...

  • GRIMGLOCK

    Decent Eso def had a more tolerable flow on this album

  • Robert Laryea

    dope fuckin cd good review i wish yall could have given canibus justice but oh well. o yea and the new dope just came out like four years ago i thought not six...