7L & Esoteric A New Dope

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland/San Francisco, Houston… Boston? All right, so Beantown is not a rap mecca, but if Boston hasn’t been able to claim as fertile a rap breeding ground as the other American hip-hop heavyweights, its underground scene is beginning to demand notice. At the centre of it all: Ed O.G., Mr. Lif and Akrobatik, and 7L & Esoteric, who’re about to drop their fourth LP, A New Dope. Esoteric is a talented MC and while he sticks pretty close to battle rap throughout the new disc, his deftness with a punch line offsets any questions of thematic depth. Album opener "Dumb” is all rapid-fire ironic non-sequiturs seeped in pop culture geekdom, featuring one-liners like: "My ex-girlfriend can’t stand me/Nickelback should’ve won the Grammy.” 7L is mostly up to the task, though all the tracks are buried in the same murky, subterranean sludge. For those who’re game, it creates a sense of cohesion, plus it’s pretty hard to argue with someone who samples Kraftwerk’s "The Model.” A New Dope won’t push 7L & Esoteric anywhere near mainstream success but it should help them stake a place in the same undie realm inhabited by Edan and, moreover, do a little more to put Boston on the rap map. (Babygrande)