7L & Esoteric A New Dope

Another talented group suddenly switch their style. Few people will follow 7L & Esoteric (one DJ, one MC, respectively) down this new path. Since they’ve abandoned that golden age hip-hop sound, few should. A New Dope starts (and ends) with "Dumb,” the latter being an unnecessary remix worth avoiding. Less a rap than an inventory, it’s about as captivating as someone reading a grocery list. On that list, things dumb people might say as read by Esoteric. 7L tries hard to capture a faster, futuristic vision of hip-hop, cranking up the BPMs, recruiting ecclesiastic church organs and samples of women in varying stages of orgasm on the libidinous "3 Minute Classic,” a treat worth repeated listens. Kool Keith appears on another of the album's choice cuts, a tumbling ball of psychedelic fuzz and turntablism called "Daisycutta.” Keith's appearance is telling; the Boston duo swiped his abstract approach to record making. Esoteric’s lyrics are unavoidable speed bumps, making his word-association raps (as on "Dunks Are Live, Dunks Are Dead”) torture — especially when, for the most part, 7L’s Afrika-bombastic beats deserve better. (Babygrande)