Thursday, September 2, 2010

7L Of the Living Dead

When those dudes made a diss rap directed at Byron Crawford, they got clowned on pretty hard. And I kinda felt bad for them because, despite everything else, they were rhyming over a loop from Lucio Fulci's The Beyond soundtrack by Fabio Frizzi. And if you're a serious horror movie fan, you know sampling a classic Fulci soundtrack is the second coolest sample source possible (the first, of course, is peak-period Goblin).

So, lately I've been picking up some 7L & Esoteric stuff I passed over at the time... just whatever I can get cheap (turns out I was right to leave that gimmicky "Herb" 12" alone - whoops!). And it cheered me up when I dropped the needle on this 12" of theirs from 2004 on Babygrande Records, 'cause 7L sampled Fulci's classic theme to City Of the Living Dead (again, all credit going to Fabio Frizzi)! The song is called "This Is War" and features The Army Of the Pharaohs.

Now, The Army Of the Pharaohs is pretty much like The Flavor Unit. At one point ehy were really compelling. And then one of the weakest front-men of the group (in this case, Vinnie Paz would be our Queen Latifah) swapped out almost all of the original members with mediocre replacement acts, ruining their whole shit and spoiling the legacy. I guess that would make Esoteric Apache, the one real hold over from the past period, and Virtuoso could be Lakim Shabazz or Latee... he was allowed to make a few appearances, but basically the crew dropped the ball on his career.

I guess that was a long way to go about saying that this is a posse cut with some underwhelming guest MCs. I don't even really know who's all on here... King Syze, somebody from that group called Outerspace? Anyway, it doesn't matter. They all get that "posse cut" pass, just like those old school songs where rappers would put their dancers, DJs and managers and the record. No one really impresses, but the spirit of a posse cut just makes it all work, and actually whoever it was kicking the first verse came kinda nice. It's all good; just a simple, enjoyable, down-the-line posse cut, just like we like 'em. And it's even got a little bonus scratchin' at the end.

Flip this over, then, and you've got "Rise Of the Rebel," which actually has a similar (but not Frizzi-created as far as I can tell) piano loop driving the music. Esoteric's solo on the mic this time, and the vibe's a little more mellow, as Eso kicks a nice, autobiographical rap about his come-up and his childhood. Nothing incredible, but it's pleasant and listenable.

There's nothing too exclusive to this 12" - both songs appeared on their Babygrande album, Bars Of Death, that dropped the same year. You do get Clean, Dirty and Instrumental mixes for each, though, in just a plain label sleeve. And, come on - how many other hip-hop 12"s are you gonna find with a Gates of Hell loop on it?

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