Nonstop Storytellin'

Growing up as a Jewish Caucasian in America around hip-hop can’t be all that hard nowadays since that barrier was broken early on with once punk band Beastie Boys (initials B.B. homage to Bad Brains). There’s nothing like a great support structure to hold onto when entering the underground hip-hop scene and Ian Bavitz (Aesop Rock) was truly happy to sign to much cultivated Definitive Jux after the release of Float. Commonly in the world of hip-hop you won’t get noticed by major labels unless you have a huge fan base and/or you’re just a carbon copy of the entire mainstream definition. Luckily, some use their abstract lyrical talents or interesting approaches in any genre to stretch the boundaries (Buck 65 comes exclusively to mind nowadays). Fortunately for all of us Aesop Rock decided to use his influences into broad, abstract lyrical talents associated with interesting beats to boot. So much so, that he was immediately on many well-known labels radar after only releasing one proper album. His first two self-financed releases (the plight of many legitimate hip-hop artists) Music For Earthworms and Appleseed EP both were drenched in his hyperbole ridden stories and poor production due to the less then favorable income. So the question really comes to the forefront. Does Aesop Rock’s really show the progression and refined style that was obviously missing in his self-released albums?

The common thread that develops between underground hip-hop artists nowadays would definitely the type of lyrical focus or lack thereof in their songs. Aesop Rock like many contemporary hip-hop artists love adding metaphorical statements and stream of consciousness storytelling, much like Sage Francis, Aesop Rock too tends to be a bit overlong on the wordplay. Much of his work is open to interpretation despite being focused on actual personal events (most of the time) and thus can get on your nerves if you aren’t used to it. There are some amazing moments that flesh out on Float despite this obvious problem. You really can’t say “Basic Cable” is lacking in anything. The flow meshes perfectly with the appealing atmosphere as Bavitz discusses the problems associated with the doom generation glued to their TV tubes ‘til the AM. Other tracks, most notably the featured track with the fantastic Cannibal Ox called “Attention Span” is addictive as it is hilarious.

Basic Cable Lyrics
“Blue be the propaganda banners, well, sure I'll be a Marine
with a clean sword and blue uniform, it only takes a dollar and a dream.
And I abide, great idiot box power-supply, fuzz vapor,
blackout of New York. Hey honey, get the generator,
I'm in a doom, doom generation, pacin', ancient electric secret
never sleepin' to miss the AM oasis”

Easily the root of the problem with Float can be seen on “Fascination”, as it can be either astonishingly amazing or astonishingly boring for some listeners. The no-pause stance Bavitz decides to throw at you really can put you off if you can’t stand it. There is a threshold that some can take and Bavitz does cross at times on Float, which can become annoying to many. Although this can be seen here and there on Float it is usually kept under control; with “Oxygen” Bavitz brings his non-stop string stories within the beginning, but soon adheres to the beat(somewhat). Aesop Rock is properly one of those artists that you’ll either understand and admire or become frustrated both with his voice (a bit odd) and lyrical flow in general. His style has jumped leaps and bounds from his early self-released material and the better production is an extreme positive. It’s obvious why he was signed to Def Jux after Float, as his general direction of material and sound streamline well with the hip-hop artists already signed on the illustrious label.

Grade: B+
Download: V0 (VBR)


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