To his loyal legion of followers Aesop Rock has become the Shakespeare of an underground hip-hop generation. With multiple independent releases, Aes Rock has gotten better with each release, culminating his with his magnificent “Daylight” EP. Listeners, whether old or new, will be jolted on their first listen to “Bazooka Tooth.” Shedding Blockhead’s trademark production in favor of his own, “Bazooka Tooth” takes some warming up to.
Aesop has shown he is no slouch when it comes to production and this record proves no different. It is clear from the outset that Aesop has studied beat making at the El-Producto academy. “Bazooka Tooth” starts off in almost melodramatic fashion that is reminiscent of the “Float” days but with an abrupt beat change, reality hits and Kansas is no where to be found. Lyrically, no one is better at twisting off-tempo poetic rants that seemingly give the listener the finger while teasing him or her to indulge deeper to understand the root of a message, that may or may not exist. “NY Electric” and “Easy” illustrate this right off the jump. While kids more interested in hearing about cars and jewelry have been quick to say Def Jux isn’t hip-hop, “No Jumper Cables” is nothing short of (yet another from DJX) b-boy anthem. Over his dissonant drums Aesop proclaims “rappin’ is my radio, graffiti is my TV, b-boys keep the windmills breezy”.
Despite contrasting styles, Aesop teams with Camp Lo on “Limelighters” to surprisingly nice results. PFAC also makes a pleasing appearance on the dope Blockhead produced “Cook It Up.” Ladies be warned, “I’m clinically bonkers/and hate just about everyone God’s great earth offers/I won’t be getting dressed up to meet your family dear/and if I can’t wear jeans and sneakers I won’t be lamping there.” “Freeze” is another of the albums brightest spots as Aes Rizzle’s animated lyrics act as a great bridge to “We’re Famous.” Backed by his own trademark drums, El-P absolutely steals the show with a scathing 4 minute tirade staking his claim in indy hip-hop. “I laugh at the critics every year claiming ‘hip hop’s over’/fuck you, hip-hop just started/it’s funny how the most nostalgic cats are the ones that were never part of it/but true veterans will give dap to the one’s who started it/and humbly move the fuck on and come with that new retarded shit.” “Babies With Guns” is another standout where Aesop politically presents the gun control situation with “diaper snipers having clock tower fun.”
Surprisingly, the gangster feel of “Frijoles” makes it one of the foremost songs. Aesop pulls off a superb Soprano imitation with his delivery and he flows perfectly with the building production. The tempo quickly increases and Aesop and Lif do some storytelling over an excellent Blockhead offering. “Mars Attacks” is so prophetically put by the poetic wizard the album ends in a movie theme manner.
Bazooka Tooth does vary significantly from his past work but that doesn’t make it any worse, in fact if it’s given some time it could evolve to be right up there with his two previous full length efforts.
Aes Rock is an acquired taste and this being his least accessible album doesn’t make that any easier. Lyrically, he is much more confident than in the past and comes off better than ever. Don’t get it twisted though, it will still take eternity to decipher the ramblings from the mind of this poet. Def Jux has always been about pushing the boundaries and “Bazooka Tooth” does just that. All the while remaining, raw, dope hip-hop.
Co-written by J-23