How often have you listened to a rap album back to front, without having your mind wander or your finger hit skip? For me, it doesn’t happen often. But it did when I listened to the latest joint from MC Esoteric, “Saving Seamus Ryan.”
Esoteric (a.k.a. Seamus the God Awful) is beset known as the partner of DJ 7L, who were big on the Boston underground scene in the late 1990s/early 2000s. He broke solo in 2007 with “Egoclapper,” and now he’s what seems to be his biography.
The album tells a story about a youth (Esoteric), trying to record an album and live his life. Along the way, he faces familiar and unfamiliar obstacles: He tries not to go the crime way for funding, gets robbed, argues with Harrison Ford . . . Sure, this has been done by a few rappers before, but rarely with such humor and heart. Even the bits–usually annoying filler–are good. However, there are a lot of them, which makes repeat listens a little less interesting (particularly because you can’t skip them—they’re tucked at the end of the tracks).
But this is a minor complaint. In the lyrical tradition of Masta Ace (who appears on the album) and the musical tradition of MF DOOM (complete with a whole song built around the theme to the 1967 animated Spider-Man show), Eso’s album is a masterpiece. He even gives shout-outs to Gary Numan, which his long-time fans will appreciate. Is it nerd rap? A little. But it’s got an edge, too, and Eso’s flow is far beyond most of the white-boy nerd rappers out there. He’s reaching places they don’t even aspire to, in terms of creativity of both delivery and rhyme scheme, not to mention vocabulary and breadth of scope.
So, this may come off as an autobiography, but it’s got something to resonate for every 1990s b-boy. This is an extraordinary record—one of the best of the year.