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Esoteric - conducted by MC Hitman  


November 1999

These are the transcripts of an interview with and Esoteric. The interview was conducted by MC Hitman on November 30th, 1999.

MVRemix: How did you guys [7L & Esoteric] first get together?

Esoteric: I was doing a college radio show in 1992. 7L listened to the show. He appreciated all the music I'd play, you know underground stuff, but it wasn't the same stuff that you would use to define underground today. It was music from people like Pete Rock, Large Professor, etc. That was a rarity to hear that stuff on the north shore back then. Anyway, he heard me freestyle on the air, called in, let me know he produced, and we got together after that to make some jams...

MVRemix: What were your major influences that got you guys into rhyming and DJing?

Esoteric: For me, it was around 1987, playing basketball in the fenway in Boston. My father would bring out there everyday, and older kids would come out with their radios, blasting hip-hop - it was great. Now that I look back, that was a big influence on me. As far as artists go, there was EPMD, Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, the Juice Crew, Gangstarr, Lord Finesse, Ultramag, etc. 7L started DJing in 1990, and his influences were DJ's like Marley Marl, Kid Capri, Pete rock, and DJ Scratch. I apologize for 7L's absence right now, but he is at work.

MVRemix: I understand you're finishing your album up. What can you tell us about it? As far as the feel of the album, the production, and style go? How many other guests can we look forward to, other than Inspectah Deck?

Esoteric: Our album, 'The Soul Purpose,' is more of the same hip-hop that we were bringing with the earlier releases. If you liked 'Def Rhymes,' 'Speaking Real Words,' or 'Bound To Slay,' you are going to like 'The Soul Purpose.' It's going to be between 14 and 16 tracks deep. The guest appearances are under wraps for now but I can guarantee you will be hearing from Philly's Jedi Mind Tricks and all of our Boston counterparts.

MVRemix: When will the album be released and with how good distribution - You gonna be able to find it at Tower?

Esoteric: Haha, yes, you will be able to find it in Tower and other chain stores. We are trying to make this as official as possible. That's why it has taken so long to release, I mean, this isn't your average album that kids are making on cassette and selling over the Internet. You know what I mean?

MVRemix: Definitely, I also understand that 'Protocol' will soon be re-released. What's going to be changed on the new single and when will it be released?

Esoteric: The Protocol 12" will remain the same as the last one. It has the original 'Protocol,' the vinyl Reanimators' remix, 'Touch the Mic,' and 'Be Alert.' It should be out next month.

MVRemix: Other than the whole Boston scene what groups and artists are you feeling - not just Hip-Hop?

Esoteric: Let's see... To give you an idea I'll just tell you what I have in my CD changer. Gang Starr, The Meters, Os Mutantes - a psychedelic Brazilian band, Tribe's 'Midnight Marauders', De La Soul's "Buhloone Mind State", and a DJ 3rd Rail mix CD with all the newest underground shit. People who aren't from Boston who I like, who I really want to hear what they are going to say in their verse, for whatever reason, are Inspectah Deck, Freddie Foxxx, Beanie Seigel, Big L, Canibus, Jay-Z, and, well, there aren't too many others that I'm checking for right now. There are a lot of underground cats putting it down too but, I mean, if you aren't going to give some of these majors label cats credit, you are just hating on them. Listen to Jay-Z. His word combos, his arrogance, his flow, it's all dope. That's the shit I like. I don't like his beats, but hey, DJ Premier can't produce everything!

MVRemix: I realize that some of our readers may have never heard of the Rebel Alliance. So tell us about it. Who's in it, what are the coming out with and the plans for the entire Rebel Alliance in the future?

Esoteric: Well, the rebel alliance, as a name, is in jeopardy. It's a Star Wars reference, and as star wars blew up all over again, people kept pigeon-holing us "sci-fi hip-hop." That was not the only angle we were coming from. When people refer to the rebel alliance, they are talking about 7L & esoteric, Mr. Lif, and Virtuoso. But when I think of the Rebel Alliance, I think of everyone I am affiliated with. Like if you want to fuck with the Rebel Alliance, you are fucking with me, Lif, Virt, Checkmark, Akro, etc. Everyone repping Boston and down with the Brick Records posse.

MVRemix: As I understand the Rebel Alliance started on Brick Records, I've noticed some artists have moved on to other labels. Does this affect the Rebel Alliance in any way? And were there any special reasons for this move?

Esoteric: No, it doesn't affect us as a whole in any way. We are all representing the same city, trying to blow it up. To me, it doesn't matter what label it comes out on, as long as it is heard by the masses and promoted the right way. We are all still very close, regardless of the label name.

MVRemix: If you could work with any musician, who would it be and why?

Esoteric: I would probably do a posse cut with KRS-One, EPMD, Kool G Rap, Lord Finesse, and all the other artists I mentioned with DJ Premier or Showbiz on production. Why? Because these are the people who influenced my mic life. These guys are a big part of our musical lives. It would bring a lot of closure if I could do that, haha.

MVRemix: How do feel the Internet has affected Hip-Hop? Even more closely how has it affected your careers?

Esoteric: I can't really gauge that too well. I mean it definitely has provided us with an outlet for more exposure through e-commerce and shit like that. I mean stores like SandboxAutomatic and HipHopSite are making our stuff available to everyone with a computer and a credit card. They are hitting places where our records aren't distributed. You know? I can't complain about that. Also, sites like this one, giving insightful record reviews and dope interviews allow fans to learn about artists who aren't really getting the exposure they deserve through print magazines.

MVRemix: What are your opinions on the state of Hip-Hop today? Do you feel that artists like Master P and Puffy are deteriorating the culture with their lack of creativity? Do you think Hip-Hop has passed its prime?

Esoteric: No, I don't really think they are deteriorating hip-hop with their lack of creativity. There has always been bullshit in hip-hop, it's just really getting bashed lately due to the uprising of the underground. The underground, meaning kids who live and breathe hip-hop. Hip-hop like DITC, Gang Starr, and Wu-Tang, and then the uprising of kids who are influenced by them, who live and breathe hip-hop like Company Flow, Dilated Peoples, and shit like that. Follow? I mean there has always been bullshit in hip-hop, but back then Tim Dog was the only one who would talk about it! Now, everyone is talking about it.

MVRemix: How about the balance between mainstream and underground? Where do you see yourselves right now? Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Esoteric: Mainstream and underground is a matter of exposure that's all. You can keep the music the same. When a kid gets a new toy, and no one else has it, it is more valuable to him. When the other kids catch on, and buy that same toy, it is not as important to the kid anymore. That is basically the principle behind the fans that don't like artists like Eminem anymore because he is large. Everyone knows him. He's not as special or exclusive to the people who truly appreciated him anymore. I mean Gangstarr is considered mainstream to the underground fan because you can buy their shit everywhere, but if you ask Jay-Z if Gangstarr is mainstream, and he'll tell you "Hell no, they are underground as fuck! They keep it real." He would say this because they are virtually unknown on commercial radio. Applying this question to us, we are basically trying to make the hip-hop album that we would have been happy with in 1988. Well, in 1999 too. If mainstream people like it, that's great. We want that. We want the undergrounders to like it too. We are coming at you the way we always have, just bringing the raw lyrics, the dope beats, and the clean scratches.

MVRemix: Where do you see Hip-Hop going in 5 years?

Esoteric: Well, I don't really think about that too much, I'm just concerned with getting our own stuff out. I've witnessed a lot of things that lead me to believe that, as EPMD said, "Rap is outta control." There is a lot of bad commercial stuff, but on the other hand, there is a lot of terrible, terrible, underground stuff. It is really outweighing the good stuff these days. 5 years from now, it will be the same thing, just different faces and different trends. As I get older, I get wiser, or maybe just more bitter, but I can see through a lot of the garbage that comes out. Ten years ago, I would buy every tape, no matter what the content or what coast it was coming from. I would listen to Big Daddy Kane and Disco Rick in the same sitting. These days, it seems like two different worlds.

MVRemix: Well I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I wish you guys a lot of luck in the future with your album, and if there's anything you want to say to the fans or cats reading this in general now's the time.

Esoteric: Cool, keep supporting what you like. I don't care if you got into hip-hop last week, last year, or the last time the Celtics won the championship. If you are feeling us, then we are doing our job. Keep repping for us.

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