Aesop Rock – “Garbology” review

This is the 9th full-length album from New York emcee/producer Aesop Rock. Universally revered for his massive vocabulary, the man has put out a handful of underground hip hop essentials throughout the decades whether it be his solo catalogue or his membership of groups like Hail Mary Mallon or Malibu Ken. Last we heard from him was Spirit World Field Guide & now with the 1-year anniversary of that coming up over the weekend, long-time collaborator Blockhead is being brought in to produce Garbology from start to finish.

After the “Only Picture” intro, the first song “Jazz Hands” is a cloudy kickoff to the album serving as a “love note to the fuck show” whereas “Wolf Piss” grimly talks about making motherfuckers disappear if they trip the wrong light. “Legerdemain” goes into a more funkier route saying he went home different leading into the tuba, boom bap infused “Difficult” finds him admittedly bugging.

Meanwhile on “All the Smartest People”, we have Aesop over a drumless instrumental telling listeners that the titular type he knows personally are paranoid just before the dusty “Oh Fudge” talks about metaphorically having no bones. “More Cycles” weaves in some synthesizers saying he doesn’t ever blink first, but then “Flamingo Pink” ominously calls out his idols as cons.

Lice reunites for the psychedelic “All Day Breakfast” reminding everyone of how well they mesh with each other whereas “Fizz” groovily talks about a dude being a lame. The song “That’s Not a Wizard” incorporates some pianos speaking on bare-witnessing the second first step while the penultimate track “The Sea” has a more scrubbier vibe talking about how it all falls below. “Abandoned Malls” closes out the album on a more dramatic note talking about the death of his close friend Kurt Hayashi.

Blockhead has produced some of the best songs of Aes’ career, so it was only a matter of time that they came together for an entire album & it’s exactly how I imagined it to be. The whole concept of examining material discarded by a society to see what it really means is well-thought out & as talented as he is behind the boards, it’s nice to see him take it back to basics.

Score: 4.5/5

Homeboy Sandman – “anjelitu” review

Homeboy Sandman is a 40 year old MC from Queens, New York who came to my attention when he dropped his 4th album albeit his Stones Throw Records debut 1st of a Living Breed almost 9 years ago at this point. The dude would go on to drop 3 more full-lengths & 7 EPs with them before jumping ship to Mello Music Group in 2019. His first album on the label Dusty was alright, but the Quelle Chris-produced Don’t Feed the Monster. that came out last October was much better. But after forming the duo Lice with local wordsmith Aesop Rock & dropping 3 EPs together, we’re actually getting a change of pace as Sandman’s letting Aes produced his 8th EP from front to back.

“Go Hard” is a charismatic opener about being in beast mode with some guitar licks whereas “West Coast” is a g-funk banger with references to “Hail Mary” & “Hand on the Pump”. Meanwhile on “F.Y.I. (For Your Information)”, we go into a bit of a rock direction for Sandman to talk about how he’s still dope after a decade just before continuing to bust into a more speedier flow on “Cow’s Milk” & the beat on here is kin to 70’s exploitation films. The penultimate track “No Beef” is a powerful vegetarianism anthem & the closer “Lice, Lice Baby” works in a piano instrumental possibly preluding Lice 4.

I think Anjelitu has to be my favorite project that Sandman has dropped under MMG so far, although I do enjoy the vulnerability of Don’t Feed the Monster. It’s really interesting to hear him put his own spin on the whole yin/yang concept in Ancient Chinese philosophy & it just goes to show that we don’t talk about Aes’ production skills as much as his massive vocabulary.

Score: 4/5

Aesop Rock – “Spirit World Field Guide” review

Aesop Rock is a 44 year old MC/producer from New York known for his massive vocabulary. Dude has put out a handful of underground hip hop essentials throughout the decades whether it be his solo catalogue or his membership of groups like Hail Mary Mallon or Malibu Ken. Last we heard from Aesop on his own was in 2016 with the release of The Impossible Kid but as we approach the end of 2020, the man is delivering his 8th full-length album.

The album kicks off with “Hello from the Spirit World”, where Aesop describes the concept of the album over a xylophone-infused instrumental. “The Gates” then talks about being detached from society over a video gamey-beat while the song “Button Masher” talks about being buzzed over an abstract instrumental. The track “Dog at the Door” is literally about a dog barking at his door over a funky beat while the song “Gauze” talks about being watched over some drums & a bass guitar.

The track “Pizza Alley” talks about an experience he had in Peru over an entrancing beat while the song “Crystal Sword” talks about being nary of a known other over a funky boom bap instrumental. The track “Boot Soup” gets on the battle bar tip over a buzzing beat with some explosive drums while the song “Coveralls” talks about being on his old shit over a quirky instrumental.

The track “Jumping Coffin” talks about letting the combatants in over an electro-flavored beat while the song “Holy Waterfall” talks about a paranormal energy being waken & gaged over a synth-enlaced instrumental. The track “Flies” talks about cleaning his whole crib from insects over a calming boom bap beat while the song “Salt” talks about an unknown condition over an atmospheric instrumental.

The track “Sleeper Car” talks about feeling like losing it all again over a whimsical beat while the song “1 to 10” talks about having a bad back over a bare piano instrumental. The track “Attaboy” takes listeners to different levels of the spirit world over a dark beat while the song “Kodokushi” talks about dying alone over an Atari-esque instrumental.

The track “Fixed & Dilated” talks about a list of people he plans to haunt over a paranormal instrumental while the song “Side Quest” talks about skating the store at night over some bass & live drumming. The penultimate track “Marble Cake” talks about wanting to meet the maker over a tense beat with a brief switch-up near the end of the first half then the album ends with “The 4 Winds”, which describes sideways rain over a exploitation-esque instrumental.

I know this literally just came out, but I’ll honestly go as to far to say that this is one the best albums Aesop Rock has done yet. The outdoorsmen concept of the whole thing is very well executed & his production has only gotten better with time.

Score: 4/5

Malibu Ken – Self-titled review

Malibu Ken is a new duo consisting of indietronica producer Tobacco out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania & legendary New York wordsmith Aesop Rock. They announced their formation late last year & after a few singles, they’re delivering their full-length debut with the help off Rhymesayers Entertainment.

The album kicks off with “Corn Maze”, where Rock talks about privacy over an 8-bit sounding instrumental. The song “Tuesday” describes an average titular day over a druggy beat while the track “Save Our Ship” gets cryptic over some synths & guitars. The song “Sword Box” spits battle bars over some haunting synths while the track “Dog Years” looks back at his youth over another 8-bit sounding beat.

The song “Acid King” vividly recalls the story of his friend Gary being murdered over a minimal synth instrumental while the track “Suicide Big Gulp” seems to be discussing depression over a synth-funk beat. The song “1+1=13” talks about luck over a spacious beat while the track “Churro” vividly talks about an eagle killing a cat over over a trippy beat. The album then finishes off with “Purple Moss”, where Aes goes back to a more introspective approach over a somber beat.

Overall, this is a pretty solid album. It’s too short only running at 34 minutes, but Aesop Rock’s lyricism is more intelligent than ever & Tobacco’s synthesizer heavy production suits his stories very well.

Score: 4/5