By Thomas QuinlanWhile Aesop Rock produced Murs and Slug's collaboration, Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez, in 2009 and released his collaboration with Rob Sonic, Hail Mary Mallon's Are You Going to Eat That?, in 2011, it's still been five years since his last solo album, None Shall Pass. But don't expect a drastic change in direction. His first entirely self-produced album, Skelethon fits nicely amongst the El-P-inspired production of his Def Jux days, a more musical, disciplined evolution of Bazooka Tooth. Skelethon is funky, freaky and heavy on the drums. It's also dark and paranoid, a perfect match for Aesop Rock's songs about death ― of ideas, relationships and people ― rapped in his signature raspy, monotone flow, although that too is evolving as he experiments with new styles. His cerebral, often cryptic lyrics are peppered with hip-hop references and rewind-worthy punch-lines, while the touching "Ruby '81" demonstrates his skill at describing a simpler story. "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Homemade Mummy" prove he can write a catchy chorus ― any crowd will easily be convinced to take up the latter song's instruction to "Take the brain out, leave the heart in." And though that might be the right recipe to wrap a mummy, for Aesop Rock to rap it takes both brains and heart, and he weaves the two together in good measure on Skelethon.
Read an interview with Aesop Rock here. (Rhymesayers)