Signed to Audiodose Records, Seattle raised rapper Esai stepped foot inside the studio at age 15, and a year later had already completed his second mixtape entitled “Pugnacious”. The multi-talented Texas-born artist has since dropped 3 full length albums, including his latest self-titled project. Esai, who grew up on a multitude of styles and genres listened to by his father, received his first boombox at the age of six, and from then on hip-hop, Nas, Biggie, Tupac, and Wu-Tang where his focusing points. Now at only 17, Esai delivers us an absolutely mature album, both technically and musically. Okay, so it took me 2 days to fully listen to this album – to repeat tracks – turned up blasting, and turned down low – to soak it all in – and the bottom line is, I love it.
There are some hard hitting tracks while others seem rather new age or slightly experimental. It takes an open mind and ears to understand Esai’s 16 track self-titled album. It also helps to at least once turn down the bass and volume to tone out the beats and focus on the lyrics. It’s what Esai has to say that matters most.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of tracks that the vast majority will crank up and rattle the coasters off the coffee table with, but I urge you to really turn it down once or twice and listen to Esai’s lyrics. After a couple of extra listens the flow of the album will make much more sense. It really does tell a story and ends with it being totally open-minded.
It’s a shame this great album will probably pass mostly undetected while the thickheads out there gobble up lame junk, giving millions of YouTube views to songs performed mostly with autotune, written by someone unaffiliated to the artist, produced by some other geek, and backed by some money-laundering record label getting rich off of these puppets. This here album is written, performed and in many tracks, produced or co-produced by Esai himself. This dude is one of those up and coming artists, assuring that this art form outlives its hype.
It’s almost superfluous naming standout tracks or breaking the album down into little pieces, as the whole thing is just so good, but forced to choose favorites, my ears would definitely fall for ESAI (Prod.V_DRO!,J.Lee, & ESAI), Codiene Free (Prod.ESAI), Music=Medicine (Prod.ESAI), Eyes (Prod. J.lee & ESAI), Resurrection (Prod.King Pharaoh), Ah. (Prod. J.lee & ESAI) and Save Me (Prod.ESAI), if only because these cuts display Esai’s full skillset, from rapping to singing and production.
This album is a tale of the trials and tribulations that will have the listener enthralled from beginning to end. Each song has a different tone and helps tell an incredible story. The production fits the tone of the album perfectly with dark and fiery beats, as well as cool and smooth soundscapes lacing this project.
Each lends itself to the cohesion and theme of this album that leads to this being easier to listen to, front to back. The lyricism is great with Esai showing the talents that will more than likely him a household name within a couple of years, if he keeps this momentum going. His ability to make a great hook helps tie the songs together while his verses get the message across.
Overall, Esai is one of the most versatile young rappers ever to hit the rap scene as far I can remember. He can rhyme over smooth boom bap melodies or rap fast and hardcore over any alternative beat that he himself produces. He seriously is one of a kind in this day and age of one-dimensional artists.
While most rappers only rap about money, women and drugs, Esai touches on more important subjects. He talks about the hard life, the discrimination, the constant struggles, both emotional and physical that people may go through every day. Esai is one of the realest and best underground solo artists out today. It is really hard to believe that this amazing talent is still three years short of hitting twenty!