Eso Tre is one-half of the hip hop powerhouse, Substance Abuse

If you were a rapper who lived in or around the 510 area code in the ‘90’s, you knew what it was like to gaze at the beautiful east bay hills with a sense of hope, knowing that being fiercely lyrical and unwilling to “grow up” (a euphemism for when rappers put out boring stuff) was not an impediment to a major label deal and stardom that transcended what rapper Encore referred to as “street buzz”.  As an L.A. transplant living in Oakland I only caught the tail end of this period of optimism, but such were the times and geographic setting that produced one of the Left Coast’s most enigmatic and underrated lyricists, an emcee known as Motion Man.

Watch the  video for Mo’ Like Flows On (Remix) from Motion Man, circa 1993

It should be noted that optimism is not the same as enlightenment, and the early 90’s were quite different from the post ’95 period in terms of what was expected of artists.  Someone who first hears Motion might assume that based on his limber and offbeat flow he could care less about what anyone thinks, but those in the know would contend the opposite is true: Motion aka Noggin’ Nodders was simply responding to the extant musical climate, when his peers wouldn’t let him get away with saying one wack line.  And on the six track EP of unreleased material produced by Kutmasta Kurt, he really doesn’t.

Listen to clips of Uneven Pavement (Unreleased Demo’s 1992​-​1993)

Acknowledging the stringent standards that rappers were held to the early 90’s should not give anyone the impression that Motion Man is here to shake his finger in our face and scold us for upholding the ways of old school curmudgeons.  He is probably one of the funniest (and bravest) rappers out there, making Transformer sound effects and screeching on tracks and still somehow managing to miraculously come back on beat.

The opening track, “Uneven Pavement”, is dare to lyrical rivals who mistake Motion’s lightheartedness for a weakness, as he kicks some of the most tripped out and cleverly executed rhymes heard to date, never allowing the jocular nature of his flow to compromise his meticulous delivery.  Before stoicism and the absence of creativity became the hallmarks of what many in the hip hop community came to see as “authenticity”, this bay area lyricist (who was the 2nd to ever rap on the Wake Up Show) was kicking humorous, off kilter rhymes that would make the most gruff, gun toting rapper feel silly.  And while he might not be the most serious man on the mic, on songs like “I Bounce Checks” and “Broken Down English” he makes it clear that he’s definitely not the one to battle.

Grab Uneven Pavement (Unreleased Demo’s 1992​-​1993)on Bandcamp

You’re probably tired of being bombarded with bandcamp links from terrible rappers who double as culture critics and fake websites trying to give you game on what good hip hop is (apparently, paying annual fees to GoDaddy is all that’s needed to make you an expert on the genre).  But if you have the slightest inkling to pick up where you left off about two decades ago (when you were still excited about music), pick up this latest vinyl/digital release from Threshold Recordings.  The trauma of that recent soundcloud link someone forced on you will become nothing more than a memory.


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