Fun isn’t an adjective commonly associated with Aesop Rock. Dense, cerebral, obtuse are more common. Over the course of his decade and a half career, he’s released only a few songs digestible enough for alternate-world airplay: “None Shall Pass,” “Big Bang,” and the closest thing he’s ever had to a hit, “Daylight.”
Even on “Basic Cable,” dedicated to a pretty simple topic (television addiction), Aesop weaves hieroglyphic slang and ambivalence (“Born the bastard son of static radiance cloned to welcome in every home/Let a blue screen, bruised dream canopy/victim of the cursed nursed Technicolor drunk support team.) But over the course of his career, he’s stealthily moved towards greater accessibility. By 2007, the tangled wires of “Basic Cable” became the Kardashian-crushing mantra of “Kill the Television.” In the hands of less thoughtful artists, these could be polemics with the excessive wind of a Fiasco. Instead, they’re sage meditations on the contradictory nature of self and how to kill (or at least numb) the pain of being a 21st Century Beast. (The answer, of course, is weed, coffee, and diner food.)
If Bazooth Tooth is the most quietly influential rapper of the late 90s underground, he got there only after studying the scriptures of his forever overlooked predecessors, Camp Lo. Before Curren$y crashed their jet party and Wale claimed they were his favorite (before he became Rick Ross’ personal mansierre purchaser), Aesop dug up Cheeba and Suede from their self-imposed exile to light limes. Listen to the track, the trio rapping like Wind Talkers holding the code to cryptic New Yorkese. Or as Suede says, the permanent ink staining the paper.
Enter Hail Mary Mallon, the trio of Rock, Rob Sonic, and DJ Big Wiz, the most lighthearted, self-deprecating, and fun entry in any of these guys discographies. I mean, it’s called, Are You Gonna Eat That? It’s Camp Lo with the champagne and diamond heists replaced by coca-cola, Burgundy Camry’s, and 2:00 a.m. hamburgers the size of human heads (at Grub Stake, which yes, is the best late night eatery in San Francisco). Whereas Aesop’s solo projects have been heavily conceptual and story-driven, this is the trio getting stoned, goofing off, and saying the flyest shit they can conceive– paying homage to EPMD, The Beasties, and Camp Lo in equal parts.
His longtime tour partner, Sonic plays the Jonah Hill role, crashing weddings for food, but staying for the prom dresses. Wiz adds boom-bap scratches to Aesop’s Hovercraft-converted jalopy funk. The chemistry is ideal — the two trade off bars, tempering their idiosyncracies to form a new template. Just two guys rapping for the love of rapping and not trying to do anything more than make fun songs to soundtrack tuna melt and French Fry binges. And in it’s own way, that’s very necessary.
MP3: Hail Mary Mallon-“Smock”