Esko: The Seed
Storytelling in hip hop music is probably one of the most engaging forms of lyricism, as the rapper takes you through a point of view in time to hear their tale through their eyes. From the worldly stories of the “Ruler,” Slick Rick to the controversial tales of growing up in a trailer park, as told by Eminem, storytelling has been a well-built upon aspect to hip hop music. Unfortunately, in today’s hip hop and rap music, storytelling is becoming somewhat of a dying art; indeed, there are still plenty of artists who rhyme in story, but the abundance of these emcees has declined over the years. But it is artists like Esko that keep the art of storytelling alive, and you can witness that on his latest album, The Seed.
The seven-minute opening was quite something. I really liked the whole song part, nothing really to complain about there, but what was really funny was the outro to the intro where Esko performs a skit about “whack rappers” being everywhere. It’s quite comical, and that’s what’s great about Esko. Just like Eminem and Hopsin, he has a twisted sense of humor, and uses that a lot in his music. From his skits to his punch lines, his comedy finds its way into his hip hop and it helps create a more entertaining experience for the listener. After the intro, though, the humor took a quick stop as a very energetic, hard-knocking street instrumental bumped as Esko rapped on “Against the Law.” The intense track is sort of a second introduction to Esko as he shows off his lyrical talent and puts down other rappers and goes to the braggadocio that a lot of rappers turn to in order to prove their high-stance. He recites a line where he blatantly disses the guys over at YMCMB to prove to the listener how much he despises contemporary hip hop, especially the mainstream, radio rap.
The next track, “Stand Still,” starts off very dark with some bells ringing with some strange noises in the background, all backing some heavy drums. Then Esko proceeds with the storytelling that is really the heart of his abilities. The story is dark and eerie; with this song, I really think of Kid Cudi’s style of storytelling, like what was showcased on A Kid Named Cudi and Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. The hook is catchy–not fit for the mainstream, but in a more hypnotic way. On “Nowhere to Fall,” I really felt engaged in his stories. The beat on “Nowhere to Fall” is intriguing too, with its mellow chime-like, synth notes and the 808 kick. There are a lot of multi’s in the first verse, as well, which puts Esko on an even higher pedestal. The hook is sung by a female vocalist with a voice that is the perfect compliment to this downtrodden instrumental. Again, Esko remains dark and depressed as he rhymes about some of the darkest subjects on the album, including suicide.
The darkness permeates throughout the majority of the album, but there are tracks such as “Check Me Out” that somewhat distract from the quality and consistency of the album. But the instrumental consistency is prevalent, mostly, as some drums similar to what you would hear in a B.o.B song are selected to provide support to Esko’s lyrics. As the album closes, I was surprised that a ten track album from an artist I’ve never heard of could instill such a powerful impact on me. Esko is definitely a top-notch storyteller who shouldn’t be slept on.
Dark, deep and depressed are the stories that Esko tells on The Seed, and the beats are just the same. For the most part, the album is very consistent and really lets you into the heart, mind and soul of a true emcee. Emotionally provocative, The Seed allows you to feel what Esko feels, see what Esko sees and imagine what is in Esko’s mind. I feel Esko said it best on the track “Where Do I Go” when he rapped “I’m got mainstream rhythm, lyrics of an underground genius…”
MP3: Esko “Nowhere To Fall”
Buy: FREE on Bandcamp