Review Summary: More or less the Aesop Rock show through and through
To any of my regular readers, it's probably no secret that I despise Slug (of overrated Atmosphere fame) almost as much as I do Murs (of also overrated, 9th Wonder-produced 3:16
fame). And with that, I had a real bias going into listening to a record produced entirely by an emcee instrumental in my hip-hop development. Like any aspiring backpacking blogger-come-critic, Aesop Rock was one of my first forays into progressively produced and lyrically existential hip-hop. But while my days as a purely conscious-bent subject matter proponent are over, a sentimentality still lingers over my time spent with Aes. When I saw he would be responsible for the production on Felt's third installment, A Tribute to Rosie Perez
, I was excited and apprehensive simultaneously.
As expected, Aes Rock brings an interesting production style to the table. Influenced by his varied experiences on Blockhead and El-P beats and his lyrical penchant for the complicated/ semi-ridiculous, there are a lot of good things going on here. Namely, Aes displays an almost uncanny tendency to layer multiple samples amidst his progressive, syncopated beats. And while he sounds like a mixture of the aforementioned artists with respect to progginess versus playfulness, a signature Aesop Rock sludgy feel exists throughout. Whether it's an excessively low low-end equalizer setting for the drum track, it's definitely something you'd expect extrapolating his production skills through such eccentric rapping.
Most importantly though, the drumming really does wonders for Felt's sonic background; previous iterations have been saturated in a classically chilled-out west coast vibe. Sans experimentation, it's hard to find anything that Slug and Murs say... well... interesting. Aes does wonders to prop the two up - they're somehow a perfect fit for his sludgy, experimental meanderings. As is typical with Felt releases, you'll find more of the same brag raps, punchlines, odes to the greener things in life, and so on. When Slug is at his most Atmospheric (ie, emotive storytelling), he's at his best, but it really doesn't matter. Nothing here really sticks with you, but it's more or less the Aesop Rock show through and through; hopefully he puts out more in the future.