Nobody would call me a hip-hop expert. I’m more of a light drinker when it comes to hip-hop; I like the taste, but it’s hard to find a drink I can swallow. Finding hip-hop that doesn’t insult my intelligence is rare to find. If I want to ruin my brain cells, then I listen to k-pop and One Direction. One only needs so much auditory junk food though, and I like my hip-hop with a good beat and a good message. After reading about and watching the ridiculous excuse for music that is Chief Kleef (I refuse to even link to him), I wanted to cry to the heavens and ask “Is there any music salvation out there!?” Maybe.
I can’t even recall how LA duo Substance Abuse came across my radar. It’s certainly not easy to find info on this group even though they’ve been around since the late 90s. Members Eso Tre and Subz grew up in the LA hip-hop scene; rhyming was their day to day, so it was natural for them to start producing their own “positive expression through creative art.” In 2006 they released their first album, Overproof, which was met with much critical acclaim in the underground scene. Overproof also contained some heavy hitting collabos with MC Kool Keith and MF Doom, which helped the group gain national exposure.
Since the album the two have been touring and working on their next release, Background Music, which is finally due to drop in November. Only a couple singles have been released so far online. If you love 90s hip-hop, then you’ll probably love this album. The single, Don’t Get Us Wrong, featuring Tash is a rollicking party pumper rife with jazzy percussion, but it is in the other two singles Young Hollywood and Flossin that Substance Abuse really show their true colors.
True to their mantra, Background Music minces no words pushing expression through creativity. The album’s main purpose seems to be skewering posers wherever they may lurk: from the lineups to Hollywood’s glitziest clubs, to the studios of weak-ass sell-outs (you know who you are). I also really love how SA throws the zingers out to the media and the current state of US politics with lyrics like “Where you get your news / CNN or TMZ / Practically the same / That’s how it seem to me.” The lyrics are tight, which is what I would expect as Eso Tre also moonlights as a hip-hop music writer. It’s obvious that these guys are just shaking their heads at how something they love so much has turned so astray. Is this just generation gap, or a true voice asking for sanity? How low can hip-hop go?
For now, check out the single Flossin featuring MC Eiht below and tell me what you think of these LA rappers.