Review Summary: Be MC Esoteric Seamus, jam MC Esoteric down their throats!
MC Esoteric began as a DJ in Philadelphia, where 7L asked him to collaborate with him. Hence they formed 7L & Esoteric. Since then, MC Esoteric has gone solo and worked with such acts as Vinnie Paz's Army of the Pharaohs.
First off, if you’re a comic book fan, casual or more, get this CD. I mean, look at that title! What an awesome pun to match the album cover! This CD has an abundance of samples from the radio shows of a lot of comics, such as Spider-Man, Captain America, and the Fantastic Four. It has song names like “Steve Rogers,” “Galactus Trilogy,” and “Hal Jordan.” Oh yeah, and they’re good songs too (a lot of them anyway). Serve or Suffer is a good, nerdy instrumental hip hop CD. For comic fans and (probably) non fans alike.
Now I am only a casual comic book fan. But still, I enjoyed the wonderful clips that are mixed in with some good beats. Often its just clips on top of an intense instrumental hip hop song. This is fine, its great to hear creepy Green Goblin say “But you must test it for me. Just one little sip! That’s all!” at the beginning of “Goblin’s Horse Tranquilizer.” But occasionally, Esoteric is able to blend the two, and those make for the best songs. For example, the sound of the Swordsman’s sword swinging through the air transitions from a clip into the basis for part of the song in “Swords to a Fistfight.” And on the best of the CD, “Steve Rogers,” Esoteric samples the Captain America theme song and puts a good beat under it for a really cool song.
Aside from the copious amount of comic book references, Esoteric is able to keep the CD interesting for the most part. Some songs get stuck in slow beats and creepy sounds and they never go anywhere. “1989” is going for something, I’m not sure what, but it’s not very good. “Silence is Golden” is eerie, but not very interesting except for the clip about Spider-Man swinging through the canyons of New York buildings at the end. Some songs seem to be stalling from the beginning to the end. But with 23 songs over 56 minutes, there were bound to be some duds. If not a comic book fan, you’ll enjoy about half the songs. If you are a comic book fan, you’ll like maybe 75% of the songs, depending on how much you like to hear comic book clips over beats.
But when the songs have a structure or a hook, their quality improves dramatically. “Let the Leo Out” has a cool guitar riff going throughout the song. “Boba Fett Thrills Me Still” is the wackiest song on the CD, it has lyrics. About Boba Fett of course. Throughout each song, there’s usually something to make the listener say “Hey, that’s pretty cool,” if nothing else. In “Whole House Freeze” there’s a cool soul sample, from out of nowhere. And if you can catch it, you’ll hear Han Solo say “Fly casual.” Awesome.
This makes the CD really good for background music, preferably for something nerdy like video games or catching up on Watchmen so you’re cooler than the masses who just watched the movie. What a world we live in where it’s become hip to read comics. I love it.
“Swords to a Fistfight”
“Let the Leo Out”