“Minotaur-fugly stepchild” or “I mean, I guess it matters to me, I wish it mattered to you, how a thousand virtues, kick the same bucket like Chinatown turtles” or “Failed all basic training but I spent a couple groundhogs days with a changeling.” Taken out of context (like I just did), this is little more than gibberish from the song, “Zero Dark Thirty”. But in the nimble, able hands of Aesop Rock, these seemingly dissimilar strands are woven into a complex rap tapestry that no one can fuck with. No one can rap as well as Aesop Rock. There are many talented emcees out there, but he is the most technically proficient rapper going today. In an era of disposable lyrics and cheap thrills, Aesop strings together pearls of wisdom that require multiple (and I truly mean multiple) listens to digest and sink in. Often, his work requires years before truly making sense. I have been listening to Labor Days for nearly a decade and I am still discovering new meanings.
“Zero Dark Thirty” was released a few months back in advance of Aesop Rock’s new album, Skelethon. The new album — his first in six years — was released recently and it is truly immaculate. Gone are the beats from Blockhead and El-P. Instead, Aesop Rock ably handles all the production himself, though his production style mirrors that of El-P and Blockhead. You get the science fiction-y flourishes and random samples. The style presents a perfect marriage for his rhyming style.
Skelethon stands as one of the best releases of the year. It is right up there with the new albums from Killer Mike, Oddisee, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and El-P. “Zero Dark Thirty” is one of the standouts, but “Gopher Guts” stands as my favorite song of the release. The beat is impeccably slow-burning and it features Aesop Rock at his rawest and most honest. On the song, he addresses many of the demons that have plagued him. He does so in a uncharacteristically frank manner. It is definitely in the running for my favorite song of the year.
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