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Guru of Gangstarr once said that ‘if your voice ain’t dope you need to chill.’ At the risk of sounding too technical, my assertion is that the same rule still applies that was valid in 1994 on the Hard to Earn album.
With Blood Rushing to My Head, veteran mixtapist Eshon Burgundy delivers something extremely authentic. The album seems to pay tribute to an era of Big Poppas and Easy Mo Bee’s, a time when ‘riding’ with a team was normal in lieu of solely being branded by a rap name. (See: the high presence of S.A.M.G., including features by C.H.R.I.S., Jeremiah Bligen, Hot Handz and J.Johnson).
Where other artists might skimp on the visible reality, out of a loving heart, Eshon weaves passionate stories of the tumultuous ghetto, a segment of society largely forgotten by mainstream Christianity. Eshon’s album is targeted; seemingly created for those who are not strangers to the hood life. This is the perfect album for those who are on either side of the “faith fence.”
The album kicks off with “The Garden” featuring the heavily sought-after Christon Gray and produced by BMII and Eons D. Eshon raps: The whole world a Rotten Apple, drop it on the floor/ Don’t be deceived thinkin’ somethin pure is at the core. The correlation between Adam’s sin and our fallen world is almost palpable.
On “Dearly Beloved” featuring J. Johnson, Eshon dons his humble Guru flow over a beat one might expect to find on ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ by Camp Lo. In the song, Eshon explores the futility of self-dependence with lines like: Whatever makes you scared, the fact is your fear loves it and Curlin your arm chasin after selfish ambition / Ambition is different when the hand of God’s missin’.
“Comprende”, a posse cut consisting of The Voice, Lavoisier, Eric Christopher and Fred Council, paints a picture seen on many street corners of America – young men posted without physical nor spiritual destinations. It is a sad reality that truth can be found in Lavoisier’s words: Some would rather take a jail cell over a college degree.
The second half of the album really hits hard with tracks like “Semi Automatic Mindset” and “D.B.A.” The former features Salvation Armie running mate Jeremiah Bligen over a guitar-heavy track produced by Kevin Franklin. As with his King Kulture contribution “Nothin’ For Us”, Eshon spits his trademark-style lyrics, lodged with so much truth that it would be impossible to pull a “dividing doctrine” flag. Bars like Pride and arrogance are the enforcers of the curse and Stand firm, let me problems run their course sound more like Christian manifestos than rap lyrics.
The horns, oh the horns. In the same vein as “Unbelievable” and “N.Y. State of Mind”, producer Street Orchestra drops a classic track with “D.B.A.” J. Johnson’s street-anthem-of-a-hook perfectly compliments Eshon as he douses the beat with flames like Cuz we got right and wrong, long as they coexist / Somebody’s gotta die, Biggie told you this.
Rapzilla.com Beat Battle (at Flavor Fest 2011) finalist TEE WYLA drops what sounds like an outro with “Cloud College”, featuring Copywrite, IV his Son and Big Fil. An extremely introspective piano loop creates the perfect atmosphere, allowing all four artists room to give testimonies of their escape or deliverance from former lives. Eshon paints his most memorable picture: Way more than anyone could take fellas / Life on the line like bank tellers / with a dude in a mask and a bag and a .44 mag pressed against the glass.
The album does have its faults, though, as many of the tracks sound extremely similar both in content and tone. Eshon seems unwilling to step outside of his comfort zone, a zone largely explored and refined on his mixtapes. Had there been a greater definition of direction - a more climatic answer to the plight of the streets - the album might have reached classic status. Also, on a slightly nit-picky note, some of the tracks do not feed so well into each other. Mix levels between tracks such as “Tell You Why” ft. Je’kob and “I Don’t Want You” strain the listener’s ears, especially if they are listening on a quality stereo system.
Walking into Eshon’s album, I expected something extremely accessible, but instead what I got was an album rich with street tales and stories of God’s redemption. In retrospect, it makes sense that Eshon would release such a lyric-heavy project (See: “The Evidence of Things Not Seen”). It is interesting that much of the album seems to inherit its sound and beat choice from Eshon’s ‘Cleaning Out My Closet’ free project, which was mainly a compilation of his raps throughout his years.
Overall, I would have preferred to hear more “lose your mind in Jesus” type tracks like Eshon presented with the ‘Blood Bought’ EP. But ‘Blood Rushing To My Head' serves as a stellar introduction for those unfamiliar with Eshon Burgundy, and definitely whets appetites for what’s to come.
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1. The Garden ft Christon Gray - Produced by BMII & Eons D
2. Dearly Beloved ft. J.Johnson & Von Won - Produced by Rising Son
3. Comprende ft. The Voice, Lavoisier, Eric Christopher, Fred Council - Produced by Preppy
4. Tell You Why ft. Je' Kob Washington - Produced by Rising Son
5. I Don't Want You - Produced by StreetOrchestra
6. The Veil ft Fred Council - Produced by HotHandz
7. Semi Automatic Mindset ft. Jeremiah Bligen - Produced by Kevin Franklin
8. DBA ft J.Johnson & Sean C. Johnson - Produced by StreetOrchestra
9. Wine n Spirits ft C.H.R.I.S. - Produced by Kevin Franklin
10. Cloud College ft. Copywrite, IV His Son, Big Fil - Produced by TEEWYLA