Razor Tongue Media

J. Esco Spins Grimy With Royal On Dope Album Crown Me

Cover of J. Esco EP "Crown Me" features a hand drawn roaring gorilla face with a crown worn on its head.

One of Tacoma’s many nicknames is Grit City, a moniker pertaining to its blue-collar and hardnosed population.  However, if you were to look at the city’s history of Hip Hop, most of any kind of gritty or grimy sound in that arena would be attributed almost entirely to West Coast influences.  This is fitting considering Tacoma sits on top of the Best Left Coast, but there are still MC’s out there who feed on that raw, dusty  sound.  J. Esco, a New York native living in Tacoma now, embodies that type both as a mic controller and producer alike.  His latest project Crown Me attests to that.

Crown Me takes a look at just about everything contemporary in rap and throws up a big fat middle finger to it.  Autotune?  Fuck off.  Trap beats? Fuck off.  Soft shit?  The fuck out of here.  On the production side, what you will find in Esco is a penchant to put together well-crafted beat breaks that are reminiscent of the grimy New York vibes in its heyday.  

You can tell Esco (aka King Prime) has studied the Havocs and Alchemists and weaved that into his own steelo, crafting a gorgeous yet mean mugging audio backdrop that is both fresh and vintage at the same time.  The dual-threat works the boards on every song on the eight-track project except for one, which is handled by DJ Iceman (“Broadway Bookie”).  This makes possible a consistent vibe throughout the record without coming off repetitive.  From the vibrant horns on “Ghetto Luxury (with Seven Da Pantha)” to the brooding bassline on “Zangetsu”, there are different scales of the grimy on Crown Me but they all come together to make a delicious recipe of moody.

Bar wise J. is a sharpshooter as well.  He’s clever and cocky, keeping the braggadocio swagger alive like his New York roots birthed it in his veins.  That’s not to say everything is in one mode lyrically though.  In one set of lines, he goes from comparing himself to Floyd Mayweather to Zeus on “Zangetsu”.  Then on “’85’35” he eschews lessons he learned from his father and how they apply to him today.  And later he is speaking on Northwest life with Littoral and Extra Folks on “Put Your Hands Up”.    It amounts to plenty to soak up during the just over 25-minute listen.  Get Crown Me and a taste of NY via Tacoma in your ears asap.

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