Once an MC gets the spotlight, they seldom perform as expected. Then there are the MC’s such as Aesop Rock, who doesn’t just raise the bar with every album he releases, he rips it down and puts up his own. Now located on one of the Underground’s favorite talent rosters, El-P’s Def Jux label, fans want to know that he can maintain the level of Float. Especially since Def Jux’s nation-wide distribution will bring in more listeners, thus a significantly increased amount of pressure. So the question is, did the album meet the high expectations? Let’s get into the review.
The LP starts with the self-produced “Labor,” which goes down as one of the “rawer” tracks on the album. In fact, he produced a total of four of the LP’s tracks. The rest was handled by Blockhead, except for the first single “Coma”, which was done by Omega One. All three producers did a great job of providing mellow production, that perfectly compliments Aesop’s voice. Actually, there isn’t one beat on this LP that isn’t at least above average. As you listen to the whole album, you realize that each song is giving off a similar vibe, and it’s that kind of consistency that a lot of MC’s cannot create. The previously mentioned “Coma” sports simple production with a lot of change-up’s, as Aesop shines as usual. Only complaint is a somewhat below average hook. In “Save Yourself”, he not only spits with his usual flow, but he also switches into a speedy double-time delivery, and the result is impressive. Other tracks that stand out from the rest include “Daylight” and “No Regrets”. The first contains more up-beat production from Blockhead, and an enjoyable hook by Aesop. “Life’s not a bitch, life is a beautiful woman / you only call her a bitch cause she won’t let you get that pussy / Maybe she didn’t feel ya’ll share any similar interests / or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet-talk the princess.” The latter is probably the most accessible track out of the fourteen total. In the form of a storytelling track, Aesop explains that living a dream is the only way to attain it, and dreaming is just sitting on the sideline while it gets away. In fact, this is one of the best tracks that I’ve heard in a long time.
As for collaborations, there’s only two of them here. The first is the Aesop produced track called “One Brick”, which features Illogic. Aesop and Illogic have a great contrast in voices which makes the track come together perfectly. The second and better collaboration is “Bent Life”, with Stronghold member C-Rayz Walz. Both paint immersive pictures that bring the track to life. Other then the songs mentioned, there’s nothing that really stands out from the rest. That’s not to say the rest of the songs are not good, because it’s quite the opposite. But the whole LP is on an incredibly high level, and distinguishing one song as better than another is not really fair to the music.
There’s also a reason why I’ve hardly mentioned the lyrics on most of the tracks, and I feel the reasoning deserves elaboration. Before going out to buy the album, understand that Aesop Rock is an abstract MC. He’s said that he never thought that he was, but it’s hard not to notice. Lyrically, he combines wordplay with an almost poetic style. That means you won’t be finding a lot of punchlines, or any lyrics that will make you rewind the track to hear it again. But, if you’re looking for rhymes that will force you to make your own interpretation, Aesop is your man. Personally, I feel he has one of the strongest deliveries in hip hop today. His trademark deep voice hardly ever changes, but he has the gift of making it fit each beat individually. There’s no doubt that he uses what he has to maximum potential.
So when asking if this album meets expectations, the answer is clearly yes. Aesop Rock has created an album in which you can listen to all 60 minutes straight, and then want to hear it again immediately after. The only aspect holding it back from scoring a perfect 10, is the lack of diversity in some of the tracks. To hear at least one more “No Regrets” would have been fantastic, because 99% of hip hop pales in comparison to that song. The final judgment, pick this LP up and experiment if you’ve never heard him. And for all the Aesop Rock fans out there, you’re going to pick it up anyway.