Aesop Rock: Skelethon
- By the time the El-P helmed and down-right badass record label Definitive Jux fell into a hiatus coma a couple of years back, the label had practically ground itself to a halt, anyway, releasing only two records in three years. It seemed its diverse and radical roster of artists had undone themselves, their collective talents constantly in battle their heads unsettled and hearts heavy. Combine this with a pretty loose business model and a complete lack of planetary alignment meant that the label was running a race with time that it could, ultimately, never win. By the time all was said and done most of the artists had either fallen apart or faded into obscurity and the few that survived seemed in no hurry to move on, Spiritual leader El-P himself took until, like, a month ago to bring out his first record in five years, which against most of the odds was every bit badass as could've been hoped for. So where does that leave us now- well, if El-P was the Crown Jewels of Def Jux, then fellow New York state-mate Aesop Rock was like, some kick-ass tiara, bringing out three totally great full lengths in his time with the label. After spending most of his recording life on Def Jux, a label that fit Aesop like a glove, latest record Skelethon sees the MC shifting his talents to the largest hip-hop label in Minnesota, Rhymesayers; a label in a similar mould to Def Jux and fierce fellow supporters of underground hip-hop and boundary pushing. Rhymesayers seems to have let Aesop spread his wings. even more than ever before, producing the entirety of Skelethon himself, a first for the maturing dude who has always dabbled but never helmed a record solo. To me it feels a bit like when the Cloon Tang started directing his own films and all of a sudden you're like, "where do you get off George?" but before you know you're watching Good Night and Good Luck, fist pumping the air in sheer relief and wondering why you're such a pessimistic human being. So what I'm trying to say is that Aesop Rock pretty much kills it here, finding a nice mix between synthetic beats and the live band setup he's been powering around the world with recently. He's especially developing a fondness for using live drums, something I have absolutely no issue with. During his downtime, recently, Aesop has been touring and recording with anti-folk, Mouldy Peach, Kimya Dawson - not the first person you'd associate with the backpack rap legend, but so far their relationship has been fruitful and weirdly cohesive. An example of this blooming partnership can be found on just one of the many rad tracks on Skelethon, "Crows 1", which comes off like some eerie rap lullaby, one which I doubt few infants would react to all that well. Pretty much three quarters of this record is totally killer, the other quarter is still pretty killer and as a whole it's up there with anything Aesop's ever put out - a testament to a dude ageing gracefully in the rap world - something that most seem to struggle with.