Aesop Rock- Bazooka Tooth

October 17th, 2003

Aesop Rock’s latest full length album ‘Bazooka Tooth’, the follow up to 2001’s critically acclaimed ‘Labor Days’ picks up from where the deep voiced MC of Def Jux records left off some two years ago, offering listeners in-depth lyrics which at some points need hearing more than once, left field instrumentation which pushes the boundaries of hip-hop’s sound as far as it seems possible and the trademark underground independent vibe which has now become as familiar to fans of this music as gold chains to followers of the chart mainstream.

Newcomers to Aesop Rock aren’t likely to feel comfortable at first and will strain to make sense of the madness that the offbeat lyrics and the industrial landscape sounds present and it seems this opinion will either stick, or develop into a fondness for the album which undoubtedly will take time to develop. It’s an acquired taste, but those who are capable of becoming accustomed to it are in for a treat.

The album opens with the title track, a slow paced introduction on which Aesop describes what he does to be a ‘life-style baby’. The insignificant song ends with the question ‘Are you ready for more music?’ and brings me to question the need for ‘Intro’ tracks on hip-hop albums, which all too often simply make the end product longer than it needs to be. This case is no different and offers my imagination the image of thousands of customers shouting ‘More music? How about some music’ at their CD players.

The false start is a short one as the second track makes the wait almost justifiable. The beat incorporates an adventurous eastern influence that so many summer tracks convertible cars blasted down many a street failed to pull off successfully. Other early highlights of the album include ‘No Jumper Cables’ which showcases sounds any arcade machine manufacturer would envy and ‘Super Fluke’- one of the more accessible of tracks which has a more concise and radio friendly sound to most others.
The second half of this album is the better. ‘We’re Famous’ which features El-P, the front man of Aesop’s record label who gives a lot of analytical die hard fans food for thought with lyrics reflecting on the rise of this offshoot of hip-hop music and culture. At points it almost seems like the two rappers are mocking sections of their own audience and fundamentally saying ‘love it or leave it’. At other moments such as the line ‘I wont dumb it down’ the two react to reviews and criticisms they feel are all too played out and give an early warning shot to any listener who is about to write a review.

On looking at the track listing, one song I was particularly interested in hearing was that titled ‘The Greatest Pac-Man Victory In History’. On the debut album, Aesop made a reference about the classic computer game ‘Lemmings’ which anyone familiar with the green haired creatures loved. Hoping for another reminiscing image I waited in high anticipation. However, for all the sound affects of the PacMan video game that were sampled, the track was ruined by the drawn out and unenergetic vocals.
It is admirable that the artist and producers involved in this album have done precisely what they wanted to, and have limited themselves not once in being different and experimental. As a consumer product however, it’s a lot less of a safe buy than previous Aesop releases, which in comparison- are a lot more enjoyable, if not for their more basic beats, the better and more attractive lyrics. A ten out of ten for effort, a seven for what was actually produced.