Who the fuck is Aes Rock? As he states on “Coma”, the self described “result of Dragonball Z / Speed Racer gene splicing”, is one of the most talked about abstract underground emcees on the rise, graduating from do-it-yourself discs to a deal with El-P’s Def Jux imprint.
Aesop Rock is an obvious graduate of the Freestyle Fellowship / Company Flow schools of emceeing, but defines his own style. He delivers end-to-end info-overkill faster than the listener’s mind can process it, much like his forefather El-P, while his delivery and cadence reflects the vocal acrobatics of Aceyalone. His music is sarcastic as it is ambitious, his character sometimes making profound observations, other times making fun of his audience. “Save Yourself” presents the artist to the audience perfectly, not only displaying incredible skill, but also making a point to shut up wanna-be hip-hop heroes. Arguably, his brightest moments are during narrative tracks like “No Regrets”, which follows a misunderstood character named Lucy, who’s only ambition is to perfect her artistry, while shutting out the world around her. A similar sentiment is made on “9-5ers Anthem”, again reflecting his personal philosophies and aspirations: “We the American working population hate the fact that eight hours of the day is wasted on chasing the dream of someone that isn’t us / And we may not hate our jobs, but we hate jobs in general that don’t have to do with fighting our own causes / We the American working population hate the 9-to-5 day-in-day-out / We’d rather be supporting ourselves by being paid to perfect the pastimes that we have harbored based solely on the fact that it makes us smile if it sounds dope!” While this particularly clunky anecdote may not be the most incredibly poetic rhyme he’s ever spit, it is however well put, profound – and takes shape even more so when he follows it with a more cohesive lyric everyone in the working world can relate to: “Fumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen / pour myself a cup of ambition / And yawn and stretch and my life is a mess and / If ever make it home today / God bless it.”
Unfortunately, while intelligent, lyrics like these that are pretentious as they are personal will lose many listeners who hopped on the Aesop Rock caboose, following Co-Flow’s subway sessions. While El-P does not produce any tracks on the album, the music remains within Def Jux’s cold vein, as songs like “Labor ” and “Boombox” capture that same sound. While even Aesop’s wild styles can’t save melancholy tracks such as “The Yes And The Y’all” or “Bent Life”, his more down-to-earth selections such as “Daylight “or “Coma” while still heavy, remain the most accessible.
All in all, there’s no middle ground with Aesop Rock – followers that attend Sunday worship services of Anticon , Rhyme Sayers , and Def Jux posses, will undoubtedly paint this up to be hip-hop touched by the hand of God, even if that means to them spending the entire year trying to decipher this album, and eventually accomplishing nothing. Aesop Rock, much like Aesop before him, is light years ahead of his time, and will float over the heads of a large percentage of today’s audience. While in one thousand years from now he may be looked at by scholars as one of the greatest poets of this genre, he may only witness that praise from the masses when he resurrects during his second coming.
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