Aesop Rock - Skelethon
Record Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
It's been five long years for Aesop Rock fans since his last release, None Shall Pass. That time was certainly not been a time off for Aesop either, what with dealing with the death of a friend and with his longtime label Def Jux label going under, he's been living in quite dark times. "I am so completely off the goddamn grid / It's not a question of addressing me, it's what do these symbols under the dresser mean?" raps Aesop on Crows 1. You can hear this all factor into this release as compared to his other ones. Choosing not to use producer Blockhead this time around, Aesop Rock delves into this album as sole producer for an interesting turn of events. The man radiates being inordinate (in an entirely good way), and you can sense that throughout Skelethon.
This record feels so much more natural than some of his past releases. There is a grandiose amount variety and versatility present, and most wonderful of all, it doesn't feel forced. It's immediately noticeable that these are among some of Aesop's best tracks. "Zero Dark Thirty" is a prime example of this. The memorable first single features an ominous beat, plastering the image of a walk through dark slums of New York City in the listener's head. Believe me when I say this track is only one of the bombshells Aesop has thrown out to his starving fans. "1,000 O'Clock", and the very leisurely "Crows" series come to mind.
Aesop Rock's, um, well... uniqueness, is one his greatest assets, but can also be what allows him to falter throughout the album. Tracks like "Racing Stripes" and "Grace" albeit hilarious, don't really satisfy me like the rest of the album does. The former being about haircuts and the latter about green beans comes off as too silly and unnecessary to me. These tracks alone aren't enough to tarnish the polish off this album, however. Lines like "Armchair hater, I wouldn't piss on your coffin / but when I see your picture I draw dicks on it", from the whomping Tetra, certainly make up for it.
In no way does Aesop recreate tracks like with the lyrical genius of "Daylight" or "None Shall Pass", and nor do I expect him to. With tracks like the aforementioned, the rest of the album may seem to come off weaker (which is especially evident in the None Shall Pass record). Skelethon has nothing as big as either track, and is for the better rather than the worse, showing that this is his most consistent album to date, minus a a few hiccups along the way. This is what puts this record in particular in front of his others.
As the astounding "Gopher Guts" closes the album, you're left pondering what you just heard. What you get out of this record is that we've all felt alone in some way, at some time in our life. Hell, throw in the cliché "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" to boot. Aesop Rock seems more comfortable in his own shoes than he’s ever been, making Skelethon his most rewarding effort to date. The introverted, weird, outcast Aesop Rock more than proves he's the bees knees.