The Esplanade is a 10-track project crafted by Toronto-based, Canadian-Caribbean rap poet Eyeda Sophia and producer Emperor Bohe. The project serves as Sophia's first full-length album that aims to showcase her lyrical skills and real-life experiences over Bohe's soulful production.
The LP opens up with a soothing laidback jam titled "Supercalifragilisp" featuring beatboxer Realije who does his thing on the chorus. The record sees Sophia delivering bars after bars of bravado to set the stage for what to come. The follow-up track "Eyestrology" is a duet featuring fellow Torontonian T-bai who lends his voice to the topic of the 3 main Fs; fate, family, and fortune. Bolstered by snappy drums, dreamy layered samples, Sophia shares her thoughts with lines like "Loop running through hoops for figures/Truth lingers on who's bigger in the bracket while the government still owning me and owing me my taxes."
"A Dream" has a surreal mood and here Sophia displays her stream of consciousness to the fullest as she takes us on a journey through a lucid dream alongside emcee Lincoln Woods. The instrumental here is particularly stunning and fits the theme to the tee with its nostalgic horns and layered Rhodes texture as the emcees remind us that life is not really what it seems and it could probably be just a dream. "Toxic Love" explores the weird dynamics of toxicity in relationships. Sophia switches her flow here and goes for a choppy style over the moody trap-infused production while sharing her frustrations on how this love is not going to work. Joining her is vocalist Quezal who ties it up with sultry lines "Close my eyes and open my thighs for someone that doesn't need it" as she seeks to find closure in her own unique way.
Speaking of versatility, Sophia sure blends the old with the new on this project, although her style is steeped in the true school hip-hop department. Tracks like "process" and "Grave" shows her effortlessly flowing over the varied soundscapes Emperor Bohe lays for her. The final track "Changes" follows suit with its offbeat drum arrangement and soulful chords that break down every now and then. It features Chicago poet Vagabond Maurice and vocalist James Bailey who join the fray on the topic of self-growth and evolution. Sophia is more than comfortable here and she reaches into her spoken word bag and delivers profound lines like "We know more of nothing than everything. and everything falls away into nothing eventually so mentally are you more prepared or scared."
The Esplanade is my first introduction to Eyeda and it sure holds weight with its edgy production that bridges boom bap, trap, and futuristic neo-soul to the myriad of topics handled. A solid entry if I do say so myself.