Run DMC and KRS-One can incorporate old school beats and rhymes into their tracks all day, but they would still pale in comparison to the underground’s beloved 7L & Esoteric. Never before has old school hip-hop sounded so good in new millenium rap like The Soul Purpose. Any potential buyer should expect a twenty-track LP with music from a team comparable to Gang Starr. However, it wouldn’t be too bad of an idea to put the retro phrases back into the pen. Even if you don’t like worn out lines like “I’m rockin’ the mic!”, the production will grab your attention, and that of whoever is around you.
7L produces under half of the album’s tracks, but does all the funky scratching throughout the album that will leave you in awe. The Vinyl Reanimators do a damn good clean-up job on almost all of the remaining cuts, especially on the top bangers like “Terror To Your Ear”, “Call Me E.S.”, and “Chain Reaction” featuring Vinnie Paz from Jedi Mind Tricks. “Terror To Your Ear” sports up-to-date internal rhyme schemes, overall braggadocios lyrics, and a chorus that makes any of DJ Premier’s cuts look like a joke. “Call Me E.S.”, the A-side to the LP’s first 12-inch, will definitely catch heads by surprise if they haven’t heard it on wax previously. Esoteric brings lines like “gettin’ heads open like a brain surgeon” and “clapping on command like a studio audience” while 7L cuts the track to shreds on the one’s and two’s. Madness continues on past “Jealous Over Nothing”, a conceptual track in which ES tries to make his girl jealous with tales of a fictitious supermodel, to “Chain Reaction” with two guest verses from Vinnie Paz. Paz throws down an energetic spoken introduction as soon as the remarkable beat drops that will have heads moving. Both emcees come with nice rhymes, but Esoteric stays a bit old school with sub-par lyrics like, “I’m like Bill Gates motherfucker, you’re like Gilbert Grape’s younger brother.” He definitely makes up for it with his short second verse with crazy internal rhyming. All of this is laced together with a hype chorus with a decent Jay-Z lyric punch-in courtesy of 7L.
Notable joints by 7L are “Operating Correctly” featuring fellow Boston emcee, Mr. Lif, who helps ES create a true gem that is arguably the best track on the album; “Think Back”, more conceptual madness from Esoteric, who looks back on his hip-hop beginnings since a youngster and tells about it over a dope, piano-saturated beat. This is one of those played out topics done for years, especially in the old school 80’s and early 90’s, but the fresh production and retrospective lyrics combined makes the track slightly stand out. “Public Execution” has guest verses from Reks and Apathy, but don’t get too excited. The lineup of emcees looks too good to be true, but the faults on this track have nothing to do with the lyrics or delivery; it’s about the beat. Someone like Apathy, especially, needs brave production that can stand up to his loud, charismatic voice. 7L does not get the job done on this one, and instead manufactured a somewhat boring track.
As ridiculously simple as “My Rhyme Pt. II” is with its Run DMC/Beastie Boys vibe, ES takes assistance in the end from more Boston-natives; Netcee’s best friend, Akrobatik, and Cadence and Checkmark on “State Of The Art.” You’ll hear some decent hip-hop criticism and big-ego rhymes. Esoteric jumps his style into the year 2001 with a little motivation from ill production by Raw Produce. Ak comes nice, as does Checkmark, but the most notable is Cadence who spits lines like, “…Takin’ out more motherfuckers than radio edits.” This is a great concluding song to close out an almost-classic album.
The Soul Purpose was definitely long awaited since July 10th became the official release date. The album became available in chain stores, and hopefully got the attention of more underground-illiterates. A huge majority of the tracks were good at worst, but one or two don’t seem to fit in. To some, 7L & Esoteric are and will always be another dope Boston duo. To others, 7L & Esoteric may be considered the next Guru and Premier.