Eshon Burgundy will release his Humble Beast debut album The Fear of God on Tuesday — nearly two years after he surprised Christian hip hop by signing with the Portland, Oregon-based record label.
At the time of his signing, Eshon wasn’t the prototypical Humble Beast artist, as an east coast emcee with street-concentrated lyrics. By the beginning of 2013, Braille and Odd Thomas had traded their boom-bap sound for an experimental one as Beautiful Eulogy, while Propaganda had become better known as a poet than a Tunnel Rat.
Of course, the offer to sign surprised Eshon, too.
“I was just completely oblivious to the whole thing,” he said.
In late Jan. 2013, Beautiful Eulogy and Propaganda started to tour Texas, where Eshon had recently moved. Eshon had met Braille at a previous Flavor Fest Conference, so he called to connect when Humble Beast stopped in Dallas. Naturally, they met over coffee, and Beautiful Eulogy — which was more than familiar with Eshon’s catalog — grew further intrigued.
“Thomas and I both became fans of Eshon’s work before any consideration was on the table to ask him to join with us,” Braille said. … “We always assumed Eshon already had a team behind him, but that is a testament to his work ethic and consistency. Once we realized he was handling almost everything on his own, we invited him to come to Portland to work with us, which was really just a matter of seeing if we had chemistry.”
Humble Beast invited him to record a verse for a Braille album, which was set aside for him to focus on Beautiful Eulogy, and to shoot a music video — “Beautiful Endeavor” by Smith. (formerly known as Knoname) featuring Braille.
Eshon passed the chemistry test, and Humble Beast asked him if he wanted to join the team.
“From the outside looking in, we know our roster seems very diverse, and it is,” Braille said, “but what holds us together is a commitment to the gospel, a commitment to each other and a commitment to pursue excellence through a variety of artistic expressions.”
Eshon told Rapzilla that, in addition to their shared Christ-centered approaches, Humble Beast’s stance on free music also attracted him.
“I’ve given away music for free since the beginning,” he said. “Our mindset with that was similar, so I was grateful to find out that’s how they explicitly move … That, as well as our mindsets with making the gospel first thing and doing things musically that centered on scripture and revelation that God has given us. We just meshed.”
Several months later, Eshon released the mixtape For God’s Sake, which he will flesh out the concept of on The Fear of God.