Published Apr 27, 2016Madness and genius may not only be related, but also one in the same. Or at least, that's the conclusion listeners will be left with after listening to Aesop Rock's latest LP.
The veteran left-of-centre rapper has titled that album The Impossible Kid, a fitting moniker that evokes a petulant genius that steadfastly defies the odds by jamming innumerable syllables into single couplets. On standout "Blood Sandwich," Aesop paints a vivid picture of boys playing baseball before revealing the song's autobiographical element, with touching rhymes about his brothers and their "Tony Hawk hair." He then gives an especially vivid description of their overly pious mother: "It's real youth in the palm of your hand / When your Mom thinks Satan's involved in a band." Pulsing retro synths serve as a suitable backdrop to this chronicling of the painful '80s memories.
Many of Kid's other songs contend with how his childhood continues to impact his mental health. On "Rings," Aesop spits over whirring synths and arena rock drums about imaginary demons that descend and, like vicious lumberjacks, "chop you down to count your rings." That horrific hallucination is preceded by his laments of living in a crowded downtown apparent and being forced to work "menial jobs," before he admits that "I let my fears materialize, I let my skills deteriorate."
The surreal "Rabies" is all the more terrifying, opening with a purring, kazoo-like instrument (probably a synth) followed by tinny drums and ominous bass strums as Aesop raps about "Ice over bittersweet nightshade / Antlers rise from his migraine." And yet "Water Tower" is the most disturbing of the bunch, as its more plausible details a tantrum he had with his ex as "An embarrassing ordeal involving hospitals and questions / And the kind of doctors who use words like 'cognitive' and 'spectrum.'" The tune's droning instrumental evokes the dull white pastiche of a psych ward and the numbing effects of any pharmaceuticals that the protagonist (perhaps Aesop himself?) may have been prescribed.
For years, Aesop Rock has been beloved for his ambitious, loquacious lyricism, but on The Impossible Kid, he's reached new artistic heights by using that elaborate wordplay to offer us a simple yet powerful glimpse at his scarred psyche. (Rhymesayers)