Boston duo 7L & Esoteric have been big names in the East Coast hip-hop scene ever since their Speaking Real Words EP came out in 1999, and as they've grown as individuals, their sound as a group has also changed. For the most part, the songs on Moment of Rarities reflect the earlier part of their career, when they were both still developing their respective styles ("their" should be used with caution: some of the album doesn't have 7L producing), like "Boxcutter Rap" and "Culture of Death," though there are some later cuts included on it as well. "Olde English," which references Janet Jackson's Super Bowl incident and Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, couldn't have been made earlier than 2004, and "Throw 'Em Up," despite the early-'90s-sounding production and the chorus almost straight from Paul's Boutique, has Eso comparing his style to "Shallow Hal before the hypnotist." Basically, this means that while Moment of Rarities has rhymes that are on par with what's found in the group's later releases, Esoteric is generally still in his earlier battle-rap style, insulting others while defending (and he does a good job) his own skill. He seems particularly attracted to the alleged physical effects of his words, frequently comparing them to ailments one might suffer (cirrhosis, encephalitis, cancer, blood-born pathogens, parasites, polio, tetanus, jaundice, rabid dogs, mental vegetism, malaria, and Parkinson's, to name a handful), which, although impressive lyrically and certainly able to convey his verbal talents, can get a little tedious after three or four tracks' worth. Unfortunately, the production isn't as good as the rapping is, with many of the songs just ending abruptly or awkwardly, and the aggressiveness of 7L is missed in some of the softer tracks like "Psychohistorians" (though the creepy movie soundtrack sample in "Lurkers at the Threshold" is fantastic). But for a serious fan of the group, Moment of Rarities is an absolute must-have.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown