7L and Esoteric
7L and Esoteric's super-scientific lyrical style and odd sampling (breakthrough hit "Be Alert" copped the theme song to "Transformers" caught the attention of rap nerds around the world in the late-'90s. As fan enthusiasm waned, the duo flipped the script, leaning more toward straight ahead battle raps and DJ Premier-esque chopped beats on their 2001 debut, Soul Purpose. The album was well received among underground fans and was quickly followed up by 2003's Dangerous Connections. Though the emcees were beginning to garner more and more attention, they went on hiatus following the 2004 album Bars of Death. When they regrouped for 2006's A New Dope, they had begun incorporating increasingly eclectic influences, drawing from New Wave, classic rock and electro.