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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Esoteric & Stu Bangas - Machete Mode Review
Posted by Bill Wannop on 11.26.2013

Machete Mode Esoteric is back with his new album Machete Mode fully produced by Stu Bangas. Does the collab album fall short, or does the album kill everything in its path?

Track listing
1. I Attack
2. Repercussions ft. Ill Bill
3. Apprentice to Master (Study)
4. The Danger ft. Celph Titled, Apathy & Vinnie Paz
5. Never Be
6. Ease Up ft. Planetary, Reef The Lost Cauze & Blacastan
7. Wonder Why
8. Save Ya Breath ft. Joell Ortiz & Hindsyte
9. State of War ft. Celph Titled
10. Steel Chairs
11. Bounty Hunters ft. Madchild of Swollen Members
12. Blood on the Flowers ft. Spit Gemz
13. S.T.M.F.
14. Pharaoh Status

Esoteric is a rap veteran from the golden era of hip hop. Never one to shy away from voicing his opinions through his music, he is a true emcee at heart, who above all else, does not buckle to the current trends, creating music that may not conform to the current trends. Machete Mode, like his previous collab album with Inspectah Deck, Czarface, is no different and finds Esoteric and Stu Bangas creating a gritty, aggressive, battle rap album that underground hip hop fans will love. Right from the time in which you press play, Eso proves that he can provide some of the best punch lines and battle raps with “I Attack”, which has Eso rhyming in quick rhythm over an fast, aggressive beat. Eso raps, “Optimus Prime be the only reason you pull a semi out/Is there really any doubt?/As to who be the best? E to S, lethal yes, creature double feature fest/Papered up like teachers desk/ So we don’t need a test/ Your like the panic button, when we rhyming you should be depressed”. Esoteric continues along these lines for the rest of the track and that he is vastly underrated as an emcee. He can hang with anyone in terms of lyrics and flow, and actually this may be the reason that he does not get a lot of calls for guest features by more mainstream artists (in that he may totally outshine them).

While the record starts off with an aggressive battle track, that is not to say that the album has no substance. Quite the contrary, as listeners will be pleasantly surprised by the amount of depth and topics that Eso and Stu cover with this album. The track “Repercussions” has Eso reliving the controversy he created with his track “Kill Bill O’Reily” with his group the East Coast Avengers. Eso goes over why he made the track, the backlash and death threats he received and ends the track with the lesson that every action has a reaction. “Never Be” has Eso examining all things fake in the music and entertainment industry from artists airbrushing their images to artists suddenly becoming gangstas in their music. The message of the track is basically that the majority of people waste so much time caring about what others think of them and that the majority of people are all putting on an act, being someone that they are not. “Wonder Why” has Eso going through his growing up and the difficulty in balancing music and family, and the struggles he went through to follow his passion. These tracks all show the strength of Esoteric as an artist as well as a lyricist. He is able to create tracks that tell a story and get a message across. Whether you believe or agree with his message is up to you, but Esoteric always states his opinion and fully puts himself into his tracks.

Looking at the content that Eso goes into, it is amazing that he is able to cover such a wide range of topics. While the beats and production is aggressive and hard hitting, Eso still manages to tells stories and get messages across, not simply going over the same topics (typical boasting and gangster rap) that many artists would have with the similar sound backdrop.

While Eso does go into some deeper tracks, he still gives his hardcore fans the in your face Esoteric that they love, starting with a great posse track, “The Danger” which features Apathy, Celph Titled & Vinnie Paz laying down some great vocals over a hardcore beat from Stu Bangas. This track basically serves as a preview to the upcoming AOTP album, In Death Reborn coming in 2014. “Apprentice to Master (Study)” and “Ease Up” will be popular underground tracks, while “State of War” which features Celph Titled, will get anyone’s blood pumping and ready for battle (why have Celph Titled & Esoteric not done a full album together?). Joell Ortiz makes a high profile guest spot on “Save Ya Breath” and unfortunately his verse just doesn’t seem to match the quality of some of his recent work. That is not to say his verse is bad, and maybe I am being too hard on him, and am just used to standout verses from the Slaugherhouse alum. Also Madchild, returns the favor of a collab on the latest Swollen Members record, by dropping some venomous verses on ‘Bounty Hunters” displaying the instant chemistry between the two emcees.

While Eso and guests bring their lyrical A-game, Stu Bangas does not disappoint on the boards, as he is somehow able to make an aggrieve album not sound repetitive. Each track has its own distinctive sound, and Stu and Eso have great chemistry with Eso fitting the mood of the track perfectly. Stu Bangas supplied Eso with enough of a range of sounds to not have a repetitive nature but to still stick with the theme of the album, which basically is to kill everything.

Another thing that should be commended is Esoteric’s obsession with finding the perfect, rare, samples. Whether it be from the movie Ronin in the first track, or whether it is old school wrestling sound bites on “Steel Chairs”, Esoteric really shows that what he makes is truly art. He puts in so much extra effort to add that little something to each track and the result is outstanding. The samples add so much to each track and you can tell a lot of time and effort went in to finding the perfect sample and placing it at the perfect point in each track to truly complement the sound.

In this day and age where it seems like artists pump out a collab album quickly in order to make a quick buck, Esoteric and Stu Bangas made an album that will stand the test of time. The chemistry between the two is apparent and the result is an album for underground hip hop fans. Truly one of the top hip hop albums of the year, and another great addition to the catalog of one of the best lyricists in rap today.

To purchase the album visit Brutal Music, Esoteric Hip Hop or go to iTunes. Be sure to follow both Esoteric and Stu Bangas on Twitter.

Be sure to check out some of our exclusive interviews as well as follow me on Twitter.

Exclusive 411mania.com Interviews
Esoteric & Stu Bangas
Jedi Mind tricks
Tech N9ne
Swollen Members

The 411: In this day and age where it seems like artists pump out a collab album quickly in order to make a quick buck, Esoteric and Stu Bangas made an album that will stand the test of time. The chemistry between the two is apparent and the result is an album for underground hip hop fans. Truly one of the top hip hop albums of the year, and another great addition to the catalog of one of the best lyricists in rap today.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend


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