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Eto/Superior - Long Story Short Music Album Reviews

With a nonchalant flow, Eto paints a grim and familiar world where only survival-of-the-fittest tactics prevail alongside sumptuous production from Superior.

“The new crack era ain't built for soft flesh,” snarls Eto midway through Long Story Short, the rapper’s 10-track collaboration with German producer Superior. With a granular voice that radiates warmth even when delivering grisly threats, Eto depicts a universe we've heard many times before: Born into a hellish environment, struggling to get by and inevitably getting sucked into the crime and drug world, where survival-of-the-fittest tactics ensure only the most bloodthirsty and ruthless prosper. This time, hell is Rochester, New York, where Eto hails from and where over half the city's children live in a state of poverty.

On “Another Day,” Eto updates a lyrical sentiment from JAY Z's “Dead Presidents”: “It was all good just a month ago/Now if I let a week pass, it'll get comfortable/Today's math didn't pay cash—it brought peace though.” The calm doesn’t last long: Next verse, Eto’s rationalizing destroying a foe—“I blow his lights out calm”— on the basis that “he likely got a junkyard pops and a piped-out moms,” before he and his team gloat how they’ll “pop a cork on his grave date.” Backed by lush, soul-dripping strings on “It’s Only Right,” Eto sketches surroundings populated by “young’un going through gun phases/Rest of ‘em die young ages/Backstabbers, front pages/Homicide drug cases.” Then on the flute-infused “Fortune,” he blithely recalls “a few fights with stabs/Juice wiped and grabbed.” He switches between block-corner philosopher and fighter from song to song, bar to bar.

Long Story Short gets over mainly on Eto’s nonchalant delivery. He shares Roc Marciano’s same lack of compassion: The violence may be brutal, but Eto is always unruffled. Parts of Long Story Short recall Clipse album-closers, the moments where Malice and Pusha-T inched towards confessing regret and then inched away. But Eto’s remorse doesn’t concern the specific ill deeds he’s seen or carried out—it seems directed at the broader fact he was placed in a situation where they had to happen in the first place. On “Wolves” he ad-libs it most tellingly: “If all of us is guilty then no one is, you hear me?” Rappers have long channeled elements of the Scarface fable and idolized Tony Montana’s ruthless approach to achieving the American capitalist dream. But Long Story Short feels closer in spirit to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In America: The footage can be wickedly violent, but the tone is rueful.

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