7L & Esoteric
Origin – Boston, Massachusetts
Genres – Hip-Hop, Political hip-hop
Years active – 1996–present
Labels – Babygrande
Fly Casual Creative
Associated acts – East Coast Avengers
Army of the Pharaohs
Jedi Mind Tricks
Members – 7L (George Andrinopoulos)
Esoteric (Seamus Ryan)
7L & Esoteric (7LES) are a Boston-based hip-hop duo, notorious for battle rhymes and boom-bap production. 7L is the duo’s DJ/Producer and Esoteric the emcee.
The duo formed in 1993 when Esoteric DJed a hip hop show at a college radio station north of Boston. 7L, a DJ and producer who listened to the show, contacted Esoteric in the interest of collaborating. The two found they shared a common love of the golden age of hip-hop and decided to form a group.
After performing for some time in the Boston/Cambridge underground, the duo, with MC Karma known at the time as God Complex, released their first single in 1996. The b-side “Secret Wars” gained a lot of attention as Esoteric paid tribute to the heroes of Marvel Comics in rhyme form. This led to the release of the Rebel Alliance LP, featuring acts such as Virtuoso, Mr. Lif, and Force Five. Also at this time the two dropped the God Complex moniker becoming simply 7L & Esoteric.
Soon after, 7L & Esoteric put out their first 12” with re-mastered versions of their Rebel Alliance songs “Protocol” and “Be Alert.” “Be Alert”, the B-side on the record, began to receive significant radio play, due to its unique sampling of the Transformers TV theme song. The track, which was produced by Beyonder, became very popular in the underground scene, leading the duo to several European tours, major label interest, and becoming one of the first New England hip-hop acts to appear on the world famous Stretch & Bobbito WKCR radio show in NYC and get spins on the Wake Up Show with MTV’s Sway & King Tech. URB Magazine had chosen 7L & Esoteric for their “Next 100″ issue in 1997.
The duo then dropped the “Def Rhymes” single though Landspeed Distribution which earned them press in the Source. “Def Rhymes” was also featured on the EP, Speaking Real Words, released in 1999. The album also featured Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck on the title track. During promotion for the 12”, Esoteric had spent time in Philadelphia and formed the supergroup Army of the Pharaohs with Jedi Mind Tricks frontman Vinnie Paz. Esoteric would appear three times on Jedi Mind Tricks breakthrough album Violent By Design in 2000.
7L & Esoteric released their debut LP The Soul Purpose in the summer of 2001. The single, “Call Me ES” charted at #83 on Billboard hip-hop singles. The album received the Boston Music Award for “Best Hip-Hop Album,” and led to the duo headlining tours of the United States and Europe. Upon their return, they recorded and released their second LP in the fall of 2002 entitled Dangerous Connection featuring Jedi Mind Tricks’ Stoupe, Vinnie Paz, J-Live, Apathy, and others.
After taking a break from recording the duo released their third LP DC2: Bars of Death in the spring of 2004 with Babygrande Records. The album received overall positive reviews and was lauded by long-time fans. In 2006, Esoteric compiled an album entitled “Moment of Rarities” which was also released with Babygrande. This CD was a collection of previously unreleased tracks. Esoteric has stated that this CD was put out to fulfill contractual obligations with Babygrande Records.
In 2006 “A New Dope” was released, taking the duo in a new direction with a more electro influenced sound and the production shared between both 7L and Esoteric. The cover featured a re-creation of an Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat gallery poster, something that was later used by Complex Magazine for A$AP Rocky and Jeremy Scott. The mix of eclectic samples–including pieces of Suicide’s electro-punk classic “Girl” (“3 Minute Classic”), Angelo Badalamenti’s theme to cult TV show Twin Peaks (“Perfect Person”), and the Serge Gainsbourg/Brigitte Bardot duet “Bonnie And Clyde” (“Everywhere”)–evokes the Dust Brothers’ work on the Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique according to XLR8R magazine. This release opened doors to a wider audience, earning the duo press in alternative music magazines such as XLR8R. The album featured Ultramagnetic MCs’ Kool Keith on the track “Daisy Cutta”.
2010 saw the release of “1212” which marked a return to their original sound, featuring Brand Nubian’s Sadat X rhyming with Esoteric on “The Handle,” an ode to 1980s NBA Basketball that was recognized by ESPN.
7L & Esoteric are both prominent members of the underground hip-hop groups the Demigodz and Army of the Pharaohs. Their work also features a long list of collaborations with artists such as Jedi Mind Tricks, Apathy, Celph Titled, Outerspace, and ghostwriting for WWE superstar John Cena.
Esoteric solo venture
After A New Dope Esoteric embarked on a solo venture. In October 2007 he presented his debut Egoclapper on his own label Fly Casual Records, in which he took both the rhyming and production duties. A Limited Edition version was also available, packaged with bonus CD Esoteric Vs Gary Numan: Pterodactyl Tubeway. This featured Esoteric both rhyming and producing beats heavily sampling 1980s Electro icon Gary Numan.
He has also sparked some comedic video entertainment with his Youtube series Pterovision which served as a bi-weekly broadcast to the 7LES fan base. The series was initially released as a build up to the release of Egoclapper.
On May 8, 2008, Esoteric released another solo venture, entitled Esoteric vs. Japan – Pterodactyl Takes Tokyo. This release featured Esoteric rhyming over beats sampled from Japanese music, TV and films, such as Godzilla, Gaiking, Force Five, Shogun Warriors and Rodan.
Esoteric’s next collaboration was with rapper Trademarc and producer DC the Midi Alien. Together they form the group East Coast Avengers. Their debut album, Prison Planet, was released October 7, 2008, on underground rap label Brick Records. The album’s lead single, “Kill Bill O’Reilly,” quickly gained notoriety for its abrasive lyrics, and the metaphorical murder of the right wing American television/radio host, Bill O’Reilly, and former guest commentator, Michelle Malkin. Following responses by Malkin another single was released, “Dear Michelle”. MySpace, owned by O’Reilly’s employers Fox, has censored the songs and taken down related graphics as they were deemed too offensive. Keith Olbermann had featured their track on MSNBC during his show Countdown as the presidential race was heating up.
On 10 February 2009 Esoteric released his first solo instrumental album, Serve or Suffer which was dedicated to Marvel Comics’ unsung artist Jack “King” Kirby and was featured in the Jack Kirby Museum and the NY Comic Con.
Esoteric released Saving Seamus Ryan on September 22, 2009, which featured dialogue created from sampling Harrison Ford’s voice speaking to him throughout the entire album to tell one story. The CD came with a “short story” bundled in hardcover book with 50 pages. This is basically the lyrics with some extra content. The story goes from saying goodbye to his dying dog Max, in the first track (Studio Time/Goodbye) to Esoteric’s character getting shot and robbed for an engagement ring. As the plot thickens, he joins up with Indie Solo, an odd character who speaks like Harrison Ford and guides Esoteric’s career as the two hunt down the jewel thief, fictional character Benny Macko. The story introduces his real life dog Logan, who ultimately inspires him to see the good in the world, an example of art imitating life. The twist at the end of the book/album is that Indie Solo was indeed a figment of Esoteric’s imagination.
In 2010, Esoteric released the album “Boston Pharaoh” to support his European tour with the Army of the Pharaohs. Limited to 500 physical copies, and available only on the European tour, it is still highly sought after and considered very rare. The album was later released on iTunes and Amazon for digital release. The lone single from the album is called “Palin / Vick” and draws comparisons to Sarah Palin and NFL star Michael Vick, citing their affinity for animal cruelty. The song condemns dog-fighting and wolf-hunting, yet also suggests that racism is alive and well in America due to the media’s varying portrayal of Palin and Vick, both animal murderers, yet one went to jail for killing dogs and the other repeatedly shot wolves from an airplane and still ran for office.
MC Esoteric’s solo career has been categorized by using obscure 1980s cartoon samples and flaunting a much more personal and unguarded approach to hip-hop. He also has recently organized fundraising efforts for shelter dogs, working closely with the MSPCA. He has also appeared on an episode of the show “SuperFetch” on the Animal Planet. The episode featured his dog “Logan” being trained to do special tricks for a music video Esoteric was working on.
Speaking Real Words EP – Direct Records / Landspeed 1999
The Soul Purpose – Direct Records / Landspeed 2001
Dangerous Connection – Brick Records 2002
DC2: Bars of Death – Babygrande Records 2004
A New Dope – Babygrande Records 2006
Dope Not Hype (mixtape, limited pressing) – 2006
1212 – Fly Casual Creative 2010
Czarface (with Inspectah Deck) 2013
Rebel Alliance LP – Brick Records 1996
DJ Revolution – R2K – 1999
DJ Spinna presents – Urban Theory – Beat Suite – 2000
Moment of Rarities – Babygrande Records 2005
Esoteric solo albums
Too Much Posse – Fly Casual Creative 2006
Egoclapper – Fly Casual Creative 2007
Esoteric Vs. Gary Numan – Pterodactyl Tubeway – (giveaway mixtape) 2007
Esoteric Vs. Japan – “Pterodactyl Takes Tokyo” – Fly Casual Creative 2008
Serve or Suffer – Fly Casual Creative 2009
Saving Seamus Ryan – Fly Casual Creative 2009
Fly Casualties (rarities disc) – Fly Casual Creative 2010
Boston Pharaoh (ltd “tour only” edition, only 500 pressed) – Fly Casual Creative 2011
7L & Beyonder – Vinyl Thug Music – 2003 (7L with Beyonder)
Demigodz – The Godz Must Be Crazy EP – 2002 (Ill Boogie)
Vinyl Thug Music – Welcome to Shaftville U.S.A. – 2005 (7L with Beyonder)
Army of the Pharaohs – The Torture Papers – 2006 (Babygrande Records)
Army of the Pharaohs – Ritual of Battle – 2007 (Babygrande Records)
East Coast Avengers – Prison Planet – 2008 (Esoteric, Tha Trademarc, DC The Midi Alien)
Army of the Pharaohs – The Unholy Terror – 2010 (Babygrande/Enemy Soil)
Demigodz – Killmatic – 2013 (Dirty Version)
Red Everything Movement