Some incredible MC’s have looked me dead in the eyes and told me to watch for Aakeem Eshu. I checked out loose singles and followed on social waiting for the time when he I could see what they saw…Betrayal & Liberation 2 delivered all of that.
Eshu is not a theatrical entity. Whether his mind is lingering on the sexual, intellectual, or materialistic all of it is done without reaching out for you to buy in. You adjust to Eshu not the other way around. The clean and focused Eshu on Freestyle Twins talking about ‘doing it for the people’ doesn’t sound like the same voice on Intro at the bar eating fried squid complimenting his own beauty. If it sounds like contradiction, check yourself, it’s human variety. One note people are only so interesting.
Four of the fourteen songs are by O_Bonjour who keeps the trunk rattling while Eshu calls Gandhi a clown on Strings. The faster flow on Brick is ill, O_Bonjour somehow provides the space for that flow to stand far out front while keeping the song speed at a high mid-tempo bounce. If you listen to Wit US it feels like a song De La Soul would have loved to place on Stakes Is High. The sonic identity of Betrayal & Liberation 2 is richness, vibrancy and all about avoiding overcluttered soundscapes at all costs.
As a lyricist Eshu keeps you on your toes. His first line on Suge Suit is “Fuck you N’s, eat some paint chips.” It makes sense that docdamindbenda gave him such a jazzy beat on BricknMortar, whether he’s talking Jordan 4’s the way history is taught in school or informants his voice is an instrument of the highest order. The best guest present is still Freddie Old Soul, who released an album with Eshu last year. The chemistry those two bring to bear on The Grass Is Not Green and Devine Assignment is on another tier from even a high-level contribution. They both know how to flow with dexterity and pace without sounding in any rush whatsoever. It all comes easy.
Nothing about his technique ear for beats or fellow collaborators needs to be improved. The only things holding Eshu back 1) a cluttered musical environment where everyone is fighting tooth and nail for any visibility 2) the need audiences have to easily figure an artist out. Why did he end the album on Colassal? Why are all the themes mixed and never given a clear space to be fully discussed? Life is the answer. Somedays he spits a minute and seven seconds of enlightenment. Other days he is looking for the best sex and doesn’t want to engage beyond that. Life splits us into chunks: things we read, sports references, conspiracy theories all moving and rearranging. While his lyrics form idea constellations next to one another the sonics stay earthy, organic, and thoroughly hip hop. This is the hip hop we tell everyone we support. So let’s go and buy it HERE.