There’s been a lot of talk about Aesop Rock ever since his early internet distributed discs, Music For Earthworms and Appleseed. With the release of Float, courtesy of New York abstract label, Mush, the buzz grew bigger and bigger, constantly selling out of record stores everywhere. Followed by an arguably classic album, Labor Days, everything came full circle, with hip-hop’s definitive (Jux) stamp of approval.
As major labels are left with about 3 emcees that can actually rhyme and make hit records, the signing of actual hip-hop artists may diminish within the next few years. That being the case, Aesop Rock is a part of what is and will be hip-hop music and culture’s next manifestation (don’t front). Certainly we’ve seen this kind of thing before – strange, introverted white fellas with a lot to say once they get in the studio - whether it be Sage Francis, Sole, or Slug - it’s hip-hop that challenges the brain, and makes poignant social commentary in the process. When people are sick of the everyrapper, the types with no other choice but to rhyme, (and no other choice what to rhyme about – sex, guns, & drugs), Aesop Rock is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Easy to swallow? No, this isn’t a Jay-Z record, or even a Common record, for that matter. But it’s worth deciphering for it’s ingenious concepts and rhymes that parody themselves, with laugh-out loud moments throughout. Spitting syllables twice the speed of the drum, Aesop Rock hits you with shit-talk extraordinaire, condescending asshole braggadocio, with rhymes rooted in graduating past teen-angst only to enter the blue-collar workforce. He’s the manifestation of every pissed off nerd that ever was made fun of, knowing the exact thing to say at the exact time.
The Daylight EP expands on the “wake-work-sleep” cycle first explored on his Labor Days full-length. The title track, “Daylight”, is a sentiment to Aesop’s individuality (“I’ll I ever wanted was to pick apart the day, put the pieces back together my way”), and is taken from the Labor Days full-length, and is at times, a little too complex, despite some classic moments and perfect emcee/producer meshing. But the nickel is flipped on “Night Light”, a perversion of the original, (with an evil-evolving beat by Blockhead), where Aesop flips virtually every line from “Daylight” into a much more sinister scheme. Meanwhile, the El-P produced “Nickel Plated Pockets” takes a photo of his Bronx lifestyle, as he’s “walking to the store with a pocket full of nickels, in a city full of World Trade Center victim candle vigils”, and is filled to the brim with hip-hop quotables. Things get even more fun on “Bracket Basher” over Aesop’s own nasty production, as well as “Alchemy”, a heavy Blueprint banger where Aesop Rock competes with Illogic to see who can come off as the bigger asshole. Seven tracks listed, the disc’s crowning achievement is actually the eighth secret track “1 of 4″, where Aesop gets personal, and thanks four people who saved his life.
While Aesop has said to friends that he isn’t pleased with his older material, this tightly packaged eight song EP could perhaps be his best introduction yet, becoming a more straightforward and aggressive emcee. He’s even more focused on this EP, integrating himself into the Definitive Jux camp, getting inside the inside-jokes. While still this type of personality may turn some listeners away, the core fans will laugh with him. He is quoted on this album as saying “If this means anything anyway at all, it’s a riddle” or “I’d be lying if I said I knew what it all meant.” But damn it comes out fresh.
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