Aesop Rock, Labor Days (2001)
Call it kismet or bad luck when Labor Days introduces you to a young man enervated by his own words. On his second full-length, Aesop Rock raps listlessly and tirelessly with an affected and world-weary vocal tone, dropping images like “planet made of porcelain” that pile upon each other like raindrops. Oftentimes he’ll lisp “Kill ‘em all,” wipe his mind clean, then thrust into a song again. Meanwhile, his perspective shifts from nasty MC devourer (“Save Yourself”) to morose interior decorator (“One Brick”) to whimsical storyteller (“No Regrets”), often within the same track (“Battery”). “I flow ridiculous, indigenous to now,” he brags on “Coma.” Indeed, the whole damn thing demands an inordinate amount of attention, from Aesop Rock’s lyrical torrent, filtered through a mushy East Coast accent, to the charmingly loping beats that slither along at a snake’s pace. Only the creepy charm of “Save Yourself” and “Daylight” leap out of the speakers. The rest just bleeds. Blockhead produced most of the tracks, with occasional contributions from Aesop Rock and Omega One. “Daylight” is a classic of the era, highlighted by Aesop’s lines, “Life’s not a bitch/Life is a beautiful woman/You only call her a bitch because she wouldn’t let you get that pussy/Maybe she didn’t feel y’all shared any similar interests/Or maybe you’re just an asshole who couldn’t sweet talk the princess!” Definitive Jux.