We were fortunate enough to sit down & have a nice conversation with Eso Tre, one half of Los Angeles hip-hop group Substance Abuse. The other half Subz, wasn't able to make it to this interview but hopefully we'll catch him next time around.
(Interview at bottom of post)
Group members Eso Tre & Subz grew up together in Los Angeles, where they became hip-hop fans at an early age. In high school, the duo could often be found in the audience at the legendary Unity events that have since come to define the progressive LA hip-hop scene of the early 90's. Inspired by the shows' emphasis on positive expression through creative art, the friends began working on their own music.
As opposed to groups who either force change or resist it, Substance Abuse embraces natural progression. The duo creates earnest hip-hop music, combining equal measures of intelligence, clarity, innovation, and polish to evoke the unpretentious consciousness of the Golden Age era, while avoiding corny retro posturing.
Substance Abuse's first release was a 1998 EP with Santa Barbara's mic.edu called Brand New Crime on Rocketship Records. The project received extensive college radio airplay and critical praise, and led to the filming of a video for the track Spontaneous Egos, directed by independent filmmaker Jesse Felsot, which became a favorite of underground West Coast video shows. This was followed by the filming of the video for the celebrated anti-party anthem A Night on the Town featuring Kool Keith, which received nationwide exposure.
Watch "A Night on the Town" (Official Music Video) ft. Kool Keith
Throughout the next year, Eso Tre and Subz bolstered their reputations as crowd movers with a series of performances sharing the stage with mic legends such as Souls of Mischief and Aceyalone. In turn, the group's lyrical prowess earned them a slot on Sway and Tech's Wake-Up Show, where they premiered the lead track from their debut single, What the Fuck You Rhymin' For? Not surprisingly, Substance Abuse was soon named in URB magazine's Next 100 as a group to watch.
Listen to "What The Fuck You Rhymin' For?"
After gaining much acclaim for their collaboration with MF Doom on the infectious Profitless Thoughts track, April 26th 2006 Substance Abuse dropped their debut full length album, Overproof, a term signifying "more than ample evidence" of Substance Abuse's eminent mic skills. Featuring such artists as Saafir, Kool Keith, Motion Man, Kutmasta Kurt, Rasco, Thes-One, & MF Doom, Overproof nonplussedly grabbed due recognition; The album received four stars in both Urb and Scratch Magazine.
Listen to "Profitless Thoughts" ft. MF Doom
Following the Overproof album 7 years later in 2013, Substance Abuse released the Background Music album which features appearances from KRS-One, Tash, Sadat X, Percee P, Myka Nyne, MC Eiht, and Max Julien.
Background Music refers to the state of hip hop today, explains Eso Tre “Where the music seems deracinated of the personality & edge that it once had.” It also refers to how our music is construed by the masses, people who generally seem to favor the popular over the obscure. Real hip-hop has been forced to play the “background” to club & dance music that seems devoid of any message or staying power.
In 2016 the 7 track remix EP, Background Music: The Redux was released, presenting a work that re-imagines some of the classic tracks first introduced on their critically acclaimed sophomore effort, Background Music.
Listen to "Rear View" (KutMasta Kurt Remix) ft. KRS-One
Watch "Paper Tigers" (Official Music Video) ft. Myka 9 & Percee P
Watch the latest single from Substance Abuse -
Bridges (Official Music Video) ft. Aceyalone
Published June 3rd, 2018
Watch our interview with Eso Tre below & stay tuned for upcoming releases discussed in interview.
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