Aesop Rock Bazooka Tooth

After releasing a couple of duds (Party Fun Action Committee and S.A. Smash), Def Jux gets back down to serious business with the newest from gravel-voiced chain smoker Aesop Rock. While his last two readily available albums — Float and Labour Days — were produced in large part by Blockhead, Aesop Rock handles the majority of production for Bazooka Tooth. I may be in a minority for preferring Aesop's raps over his own beats rather than the simpler sounds of Blockhead, but with Bazooka Tooth Ace-Rizzle gets closest to the Def Jux sound of in-house producer and label head honcho El-P, and that's when he sounds best. Blockhead's three beats are nice, especially the violin and opera samples on "11:35" with Mr. Lif, but Aesop adds so many layers of samples, sounds and effects to his beats. Over this, Aesop drops abstract poetry, heartfelt stories and new millennial b-boyisms in his gruff monotone flow. Bazooka Tooth contains a number of strong songs — the title track, "N.Y. Electric," "Limelighters" with Camp Lo, and the above mentioned "11:35" — but the album highlight goes to "We're Famous," a two-verse track that features El-P on vocals and production. Bazooka Tooth is for those who think Aesop Rock’s Daylight EP is his best release. (Definitive Jux)