“XAVIER TALK!” opens up the project with a sombre aesthetic made up of nostalgia-inducing strings underpinned by an obscure vocal snippet. The vocal alludes to some weird scientifical phenomena and the use of subversive methods to keep the masses in line. It’s quite ambiguous but kinda sets the tone for what is to come. “WEHI FREESTYLE” sees ESO and rapper Postiv trading stream-of-consciousness bars over a gripping vocal sample-driven soundscape. Both give solid performances as ESO drop lines like “Cold to numbness, you won’t add me to the numbers/ I slump from a gun, not from a disease” with much gusto.
“COFFEE TALK” is a retro R&B-infused track that makes use of a lush and dreamy soundscape as the canvas for ESO’s stylish lyrical schemes and somewhat lackadaisical demeanour. It’s basically ESO sharing some random thoughts in his head as he name drops DJ Premiere, Compact Discs and him never conforming to societal norms. He is joined by Taktikal who closes it out on the last verse with an equally entertaining verse that details his academic progress and baddies with BBLs. This is followed by the skit “LISTEN TO WHAT ADULTS SAY?!”, which explores the dynamics between a son and his father whose parenting skill is put into question by the kid.
On “RIP QUEEN ELIZABETH”, ESO gets back in bravado mode and kicks wild and outlandish rhymes like “My butler fucks your bitch/as I fist fight my Bane/Rip a new one to that stick looking skeleton ass, you and these shit bars make me cry tears of gas” over a dreamy jazzy texture and hushed grooves. He also recruits Positiv once more to add his own off-kilter style to the track. The production is quite dynamic and has a tinge of solemn vibes, especially in the chorus.
“QUADECA HAS NO DRIP!” is made up of a choppy soulful sample and sees ESO and Young Wabo exchanging no-holds bars over the sublime soundscape. Here Young Wabo closes it with some pretty engaging lines like “2023-2024 I am running for president/ breathe in, breathe out, it’s all about being in the present tense/Fuck 12 but these raps are the evidence”. “PEE WEE HERMAN SENT A GIF” is another off-beat skill that makes use of a soulful backdrop and vocal snippet detailing the negative effects of cocaine use. It sure sounds like a morbid PSA against drugs. “SUPER SMASH FLASH GOAT STATUS” is a short track that showcases ESO’s in his true element and shows why he is one to reckon with when it comes to the bars.
Tracks like “SUNSET” and “YES’S FAVORITE JEW OG MIX” continue the non-conformist style of ESO and his guests. The former employs an R&B sample with ESO going full throttle with lines like “Got a speaker box ‘cause my love below/below ground zero/ Never fold on demon time or wait to de-mise/See I realize I’m better than allies’” while the latter is an electric guitar-laden beat and no holds bars from ESO and JJJeezy.
Skits like “HUGH SENT A PHOTO”, “MIKEY SENT A REEL BY TMNT_87”, “MR.T SENT A VIDEO” all pay homage to pop cultural figures from the past. The use of downtempo grooves, and pitched-down atmospheric samples with samples from the respective related shows also adds that throwback feel. The project closes out with “WORTH2FIND” and “FANTANO GOT IT RIGHT”. “WORTH2FIND” is a solemn track that sees ESO in his element once more with adulations to his close friends while pointing out his fledgling love life. He strays from using any hooks here and just lets the soulful sample play out till the end. “FANTANO GOT IT RIGHT” starts off with various vocal samples from different sources and we get to hear ESO just talking about how the project came about and the support he wants to get from listeners. I love the candidness and simplicity used here. No gimmicks, just him stating what is on his mind.
Overall, SUNSET! is dense and filled with elements from the past merged with modern-day aesthetics so if you like your hip-hop, raw and uncut, this is what you should listen to.