Straight from Boston's underground scene, 7L & Esoteric emerged in 1999 with their debut EP "Speaking Real Words". 7L and Eso quietly gained a strong backing in the underground scene due to Esoteric vicious battle rhymes and 7L's solid production. "Speaking Real Words" is a typical EP, consisting of only seven joints, but it accomplishes its intended feet in every way. The album does a good job of showcasing 7L and Eso's talent and acted more as a set up for their future LP "The Soul Purpose".
The album starts off with its true gem, the Inspectah Deck collaboration "Speaking Real Words". Esoteric and Deck both blaze the mic with intense precision with each of their respective verses over a nicely laced Vinyl Reanimators beat. The Vinyl Reanimators handle most of the production on "Speaking Real Words" with some help from 7L and Beyonder. The DJ Premier influenced production definitely carries most of the album and gives Eso the perfect backdrop to do his usual battle influenced lyricism. Esoteric is a typical battle emcee using a barrage of punchlines and metaphors as his weaponry. This is never more evident than on tracks such as "Def Rhymes", "Headswell" featuring Virtuoso and "Learn From The Druid". While nothing insightful will come out of Eso's lyricism, his knack for producing sensational battle rhymes is second to none. His lyricism is witty yet vicious, with a trace of smoothness that blends it all together. However, Esoteric is definitely at his best when the production meets his intensity on tracks like the scratch filled, car thumping "Bound To Slay".
"Essays On Esoterrorism" and "Be Alert" featuring Beyonder and Virtuoso are more standout tracks, thanks to some truly great production. While there are no real lackluster tracks on "Speaking Real Words", the album does run thin of content and originality after awhile. As noted, Esoteric is a battle emcee, no more or less, which may turn some off due to the albums repetitive nature. However, if you're looking for a great showcase of lyricism and classic production look no further than "Speaking Real Words". The album definitely delivers the experience expected and is a prime example of underground Hip-Hop at its purest form.