I’ve been co-signing this kid Esso since back when I had my mixtape column in Scratch magazine. His mixtapes have always had a decent flow, good style and his rhymes were better than average. Lyrically he can go either way. Whether he’s being witty or straight lyrical, the Harlem native was always one to have you listening intently to what he’s saying. How can you not when the kid is creative? And with his latest offering, Lifestyles of the Young & Ignorant, he keeps with the artistry that’s been helping him stand out amongst his peers.

From the jump on the Frequency-produced, “Change Your Life” Esso’s mixtape begins to take form. On that song he rhymes about life’s hardship and how they’ve effect him personally even when it’s through his friends. “Living Dolls” was done for the Barbie girls of the world who isolate themselves from everyone in order to hide the facade that is their life. It sounded a little pop, but the concept and song as a whole were well executed.

On “Nicotine” he goes into the kind of stress and thoughts that can drive a smoker to fiend for a cancer stick and how good it feels to finally inhale saying, “Ain’t meant for this world/I live among the stars/but niggas get caught up in the money and fuckin’ cars/so I be stuck in the bar tryin’ to drown the pain away/while everybody ballin’ tryin’ to do the fadeaway/I’m tryin’ to figure how the fuck to get paid today/so I can copp another pack, smoke the fuckin’ rain away/ they say “son, save your money for a rainy day.”/never been good at saving, spending when I make a cake/Yo, I need to take a break for a bogie/nah, I ain’t got another, homie, this is my only.” Who among us cannot relate to what he’s saying. It’s like poetry written on the walls of your hallway next to the names of the sluts in your building.

Funny enough the only weak track on this mixtape was the title track, “Young & Ignorant.” But that’s strictly because of the over the top chorus like Jack Black’s acting. The rhymes and idea was pretty damn cool.

I don’t know if having a street album with no more than a handful of songs is the new in thing (if that’s the case, Nas really was WAY ahead of his time with Illmatic) but I’m not mad at these projects at all. They’re more condensed with the creative sounds and the artist doesn’t stretch himself out on a lengthy project. That continues to be the case with Y&I. Esso was able to show that even in small doses his music can have hip-hoppers' heads nodding on the stoop like Bubbles from The Wire.-The Infamous O

Hottest Joint: “Change Your Life”

Weakest Joint: “Young & Ignorant”