This isn’t the first time that Se7en Eli has come across my desk; in the past, I wrote his song “Tango,” which blends traditional Latin music with go-go, produced by a long-time collaborator and friend — who is currently doing a seven-year bid. He’s back on the scene with Progress Report, a complete body of work that does a good job of showing a variety of vibes from the young Emcee.
Something I didn’t quite catch the first time I experienced Se7en was that his cadence was a playful blend of Logic and Kendrick Lamar — in a good way. The nine-song release, which I bumped on Tidal, went through a series of emotions that manage to keep a pretty consistent BPM pocket, which made for a solid cover to cover as I drove around the six breaking down the songs.
Let’s start with the production — which is super solid. The soulful “Myrrh” intro, the Spanish guitar strings and chops on “Marimba Rhythm,” the jazzy vibes of “421,” and the slow bass of “Farewell” all make this project go. His beat selection is on point.
Lyrically, he has bars. It’s conscious at points, and more — for lack of a better term — low-key at points. It’s not overbearing in any one zone, which makes it digestible. “Myrrh” was one song I went back to multiple times. What seemed like a commentary on the business of “being a church,” mixed with general bars on the Hip Hop industry, was a great way to open the record, and display his wordplay off the rip.
“May the doors of the church open and let us in, but somehow I still feel cleaner than the Reverend/White gloves like we are ushering in a new generation of free thinkers, they only try to stop us ’cause they know we on the brink of/Some groundbreaking…”
“421,” which plays out as a hazy day-after 4.20, is full of jewels, and a smokey ambiance that Se7en rides like Chevy top down on a summer night.
While he manages to make some light references and allusions between the trap and the “daily grind” and music industry, “No Leaving The Trap” was the one song that I felt didn’t quite fit. It’s still a dope track, and the guest verse from “Eazyman” is solid, but it feels like it could have been a separate single. Though it does open up the lanes, he can traverse.
Overall, Progress Report feels like a literal checkpoint on where he’s at. Se7en is an artist to keep an eye on. He’s definitely on the AAHH watch list for 2017.