Like any Aesop Rock assisted project, Hail Mary Mallon’s Are You Going to Eat That? is smart from the album’s title to its execution. Hail Mary Mallon – consisting of Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, and DJ Big Wiz – is named after Mary Mallon aka “Typhoid Mary” the infamous carrier of typhoid fever. Are You Going to Eat That? is a tribute to her return to the kitchen despite her disease, and acts as a metaphor for the trio’s perseverance to continue making the type of music that they love.
Aesop and Rob Sonic play off each other wonderfully throughout the entire project. The differences in their vocal intensity and delivery make for an exciting adventure that features uber-lyrical back forth verses that discuss both the serious and the fun. The duo never slips up lyrically and demonstrate their regard for content driven verses even if they often wonder in the world of abstract. Look no further than the first track of the album, “Church Pants” to see the duo in their element. The upbeat production contrasts with serious lyricism but it somehow works as a fitting introduction to the group and album.
The album’s first single “Smock” is one of the highlights of the project. Its synths and muffled drums capture the best in both artists. Production that teeters on the edge of feel good or dark, alongside artists that pride themselves on being serious writers, adds to the complexity that you would see in any Rob Sonic or Aesop Rock project. The very next track, “Pocono’s” continues to highlight the duo’s chemistry. Dope vocal samples, a perfectly used cymbal, a killer hook, and superb verses from both artist’s brings what will surely be one of the most revered independent hip hop tracks of the year. “Table Talk” sees the artist over the hardest production on the album. Aesop Rock spits some of his best work of his career, while Rob Sonic’s flow is just a thing of beauty. It’s tracks like these, which made the two-year wait worth it for fans, that show why Hail Mary Mallon isn’t just a couple of emcees bullshitting, but creating art.
At times the album wanders into the realm of obscurity. While clearly diehard fans of both artists will appreciate this about the project, it takes away from its overall appeal. Tracks like the annoyingly catchy “Breakdance Beach” feature the artist riding the beat perfectly, but a Nickelodeon Junior-esque hook kills the track. “Knievel” sees Hail Mary Mallon spit arguably their most forgettable verses of the album, while “Garfield’s” silliness makes it an afterthought.
Hail Mary Mallon gives us one of the better independent albums released of the year. The artists’ ability to have fun, while weaving a complex and serious narrative is the thing that only seasoned lyricists could pull off. Clearly Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic have chemistry. Veteran duos would envy the back and forth that Rob Sonic and Aesop Rock possess, and fans can only patiently wait for the next go around for Hail Mary Mallon. Regardless of whether or not you’re going to eat the styles they’re cooking, they’re going to continue to do what they love just like Mary Mallon.