Aesop Rock

Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives (Def Jux)

Back with thicker bounce and deeper funk than 2003's brittle Bazooka Tooth, NYC MC Aesop Rock takes a step toward his musical origins while backpacking ever closer to the perfect flow. Rock's loopy, wide-mouth baritone is easily one of the most recognizable voices in hip-hop, and its near-manic intensity is on reckless, riveting display throughout this seven-song EP. Intricate internal rhymes, acerbic humor, and an antiestablishment scowl are all there behind chunky beats, if you're astute enough to extract them from Rock's gushing verbal currents. Like past albums Float and Labor Days, Fast Cars is an impressionistic explosion, its themes of reluctant celebrity, antimilitarism (based on war imagery), and music-industry strife best understood in a grand context as opposed to a song-by-song breakdown. And that's where the 88-page booklet included with the CD wraps a riddle around Rock's enigma. The Rosetta Stone to his previously hieroglyphic diction, the booklet contains all the lyrics to every song from Rock's five main releases. The archival inclusiveness will no doubt thrill long-time fans, but in their abstraction, Aesop's fables can confound as much as clarify.

 
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