Review : Aesop Rock - Skelethon
AbovegroundmagazineNew York rapper Aesop Rock brings us his new 15 track album Skelethon on Rhymesayers Entertainment. This is his first solo release since None Shall Pass in 2007, scheduled to be released July 10 this year. This is the first album to be wholly produced by Aes rather than his usual collaborator, Blockhead. This alone adds an additional aesthetic to his distinctive rhyme style. Skelethon has been produced following several deep personal losses to Aesop and explores the sometimes-futile ways people try to cope with serious issues.
Aesop Rock is one of those rappers that most, if not all, fans have come across at some point. For some of you, you have grown up listening to him as either a solo artist or as a part of The Weathermen collective and the other frequent collaborations he played a hand in. For good reason, the former Def Jux rapper is essential listening for rap lovers because of his style and influence on the so-dubbed world of alternative hip-hop.
The album touches on a range of real-life events, beginning with the death of a close friend in 2008. Aesop rocks about subsequent losses, jostled memories, relationships gone awry, and the diverse ways people deal with these occurrences. Skelethon is filled with dark humour that is made to work so effectively without causing offence. It’s clear that Aesop speaks candidly, if not in his often-contrived straightforwardness that gives the album that continuous flow and tone and creates the feeling that Skelethon as a collective work is far more than the sum of its parts. None of the album’s 15 tracks can be said to standout forthright, but that’s more of a testament to the effort’s cohesive nature than a critique on Aes’ ability to make one particular song worthy of exceptional note....full text
BbcWhen not claiming beloved artists in their prime, death's influence on popular music is more often a positive force to creativity. Exhibit #2,872: Skelethon, inspired by a less-than-sunny recent spell in the life of Ian Bavitz, aka New York-raised rapper Aesop Rock, during which his best friend perished and his marriage disintegrated.
Skelethon continues a talent honed over a 15-year career for wilfully deconstructing wordplay with a snarky v-sign to the constrictions of hip hop. To misappropriate a line here from highlight Zero Dark Thirty, Aesop's approach is at an “angle perpendicular to everything”, rarely taking an easy path when a new one can be thrashed out. And with a shadow of mortality colouring the sky, that means denser, more tightly-woven rhyming patterns than ever.
Wherever he accelerates to full velocity – such as Racing Stripes' breathless verses – it's almost overwhelming. In terms of dropping science, this is equivalent to speed eating the text of an entire Open University course in a single sitting. Consequently, with sufficient words to reach the moon and back, whittling down worthy quotables is a NASA-level mission....full text
PrefixmagAesop Rock is one of few artists out that can take six years between records without too much trouble. For one, since 2006's None Shall Pass, he has given us production work with Murs and Atmosphere on Felt 3, plenty of great guest verses, Hail Mary Mallon (his project with Rob Sonic), and so on. More than that, though, it takes so long to unpack and figure out Rock's rapid-fire rhymes that you need a few years to work it all out. Because even if he takes a while between records, on the word level he is as prolific as any rapper out there, packing each and every song to bursting with his strange, fascinating phrasings.
Not much has changed on that front with Skelethon, but things have been refined. Aesop Rock has been refining his flow by degrees over the years, and while you're unlikely to mistake his voice for anyone else's, the way in which he rhymes here bears little resemblance to, say, his rhymes on Bazooka Tooth. He follows the smooth but thorny verses of None Shall Pass with another set of raps that are nearly impossible to follow but flow out with a surprising accessibility. There's something almost melodic about the way Aesop strings words together, and the rising and falling of his inflection gives even the most obscure image life. When, on "ZZZ Top," he spits about "synthesized cultures on a stage" you may not totally follow at first, but somehow it works.
The great thing about Aesop's verses, though they never come at their subjects head on, they are deeply rooted in the physical. He forgets the scene and focuses on the microscopic details that make it unique. On Skelethon, he turns that eye for detail towards ideas of loss and death. We start, with "Leisureforce," on the River Styx, with " undead orks pulling oars through the algae." Later in the record, we have scavenger birds picking carcasses clean ("Crows 1" and "Crows 2") and a near-death experience for an infant at a pool party ("Ruby '81").
Reports around the record's release suggest Aesop himself suffered some personal losses before he made Skelethon, but this isn't a record about grief or worry so much as it is about the things we use to distract ourself from it. On "Ruby '81" -- one of Aesop's finest examples of more linear storytelling -- the parents don't dwell on how they neglected the child, they look at the animal who saved her and say "good dog." That's it. The troubled teens in "ZZZ Top" don't improve their situation so much as they carve slogans into desks and draw them into their sneakers. The instructional "Homemade Mummy" doesn't approach death, but rather makes it approachable by making a caricature of it. Lead single "Zero Dark Thirty" circles these ideas back around to music itself, and paints the hype-machine culture as parasitic, as the "mothman munching textiles." So even music, which can be both escape from and expression of loss, isn't sufficient....full text
AESOP ROCK Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
AESOP ROCK Lyrics
Would you have