Reviews

DJ ESE

Cohead of and A&R man for Brooklyn's Embedded label, DJ ESE shares his humble digs with the eloquent Cool Calm Pete, Junk Science, and other independent hip-hop outfits. The Side: Two compilation gathers competent Embedded MCs and friends for a selection of stunning cuts over ESE's multifaceted, lethargic productions. Babbletron's Cool Calm Pete, whose Lost LP recently saw European release via Def Jux, rides an understated minor key bass-laced tumble on "Fight Song," packaged with ESE's occasional cheesy handclap and bell loops. Pete's feverish flow is spiked with NyQuil on "Fight Song," complementing the subsequent "So Whaddup," where Cannibal Ox's Vordul Mega sluggishly laments street casualties amid scratching and plodding stand-up bass. Moogs and a tense groove à la Dead Prez's "Hip-Hop" build a sinister structure for the Ace Rock and Babbletron title track teamup. And though ESE wrestles a couple of tracks from the doldrums, his Embedded roster won't be a small Brooklyn-based troupe for long.

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Dominic Umile