By Anthony Galindo
Artist: Eto and Superior
Album: Long Story Short
Release Date: April 12, 2019
With a grim depiction of his upbringing, the New York based emcee, Eto, is reestablishing the scene of hardcore hip-hop alongside German-Spanish producer Superior, to orchestrate the perfect tale of gang lore in his hometown of Rochester. Their latest collaborative release, Long Story Short, cuts deep fleshing out an unsettling narrative of gang life and ill deeds in under half an hour. For anyone eager to expand their taste and dive into something raw and thought-provoking, this may be the album for you.
Released April 12, 2019 by Below Systems Records, a multicultural hip-hop based record label in the Netherlands, Eto revisits growing up in a hellish environment and inevitably gravitating to the unforgiving nature of the street life. A world where credit is checked and respect is earned only to be shown off as an accolade. “We all bleed the same, I can sell you the ropes but can’t teach the game”. A subtle verse that illustrates a simple truth; not everyone can withstand the pressures of organized crime.
It is a story that has been expressed similarly by rappers like 50 Cent in his ‘03 masterpiece Get Rich or Die Tryin. The idea is that you enter the game with nothing but come out with bookworms worth of street knowledge and know how. It is an anecdotal experience shared amongst some of rap’s most iconic influences, where you are likely to come across the same coke cut verses that continue to inspire rappers lifetimes later like Eto. Detailed recollection of drug activity, vices and criminal actions are all topics for debate, not for the light-hearted or timid.
Eto’s straightforwardness finds a way to perfectly detail what topics will be discussed with little to no narrative encryption. “I sneak the guns in/ I get the goons in. We murder one and-don’t lose em”. It is equally blunt as it is shameless. A grotesque description of the harsh reality for some individuals. Eto’s storytelling is rueful and at times grisly. Eto remains unruffled by the violent actions he has witnessed and remains nonchalant about it all.
The tracklist is comprised of songs tonally dark in nature, accompanied with hardened lyrics that interplay for truthful testimony. Eto’s demeanor is confident, no matter what line he happens to be spitting. He lays down his soul bar for bar, never hesitating or reserving himself. However, even while protecting his desensitized image, to say Eto is unphased by it all would be a blatant lie. The somber soundscapes swell with the vulnerability that Eto faces when being so personal in his lyrics.
The beats that make up the album can feel uncanny and forbidding as if we are expecting something impending. Boom-Bap inspired hi-hats, hard snares and Sunday service organs serve as the perfect triad for his cinematic 2019 project. Buildups are equally incandescent as they are chilling, swelling from start to finish. What makes this project so noticeable is how much it deviates from what’s popularized today. Eto’s rapping ability is reminiscent of a style of hip-hop that dominated the east coast scene throughout the ‘90s and may be resurfacing in 2019. With time and influence, we could see the revitalization of harder hip-hop verses in the mainstream.
Long Story Short is an album worthy of acclaim this 2019. Twelve years after the debut of his New York’s New Money mixtape in ‘07 and only two months after the release of Hells Roof, Eto remains immersed in what his life has always been: a struggle. Long Story Short runs for an almost exactly 30 minutes, making it a quick listen for any rap junkies wanting to escape from the flashy trap sounds saturating the airwaves today. It could be one of the hardest albums from such a minor player. While it may be tastefully edgy, it is still a project worth diving into head first.