Aesop Rock
Labor Days


5.0
classic

Review

by YetAnotherBrick USER (28 Reviews)
May 18th, 2012 | 37 replies | 3,463 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Charmingly obnoxious and oddly affecting, while enthusiastically representing messages of freedom and insanity. Poetry at its most tested...and beautiful.

12 of 12 thought this review was well written

Robert Frost summed up the complete concept behind poetry without a missing a single detail when he said “poetry is saying one thing and meaning another.” “It is never a thought to begin with. It is at its best when it’s a tantalizing vagueness.” I happen to agree with this statement, and have also come to think that absurdist poetry is most likely the best representation of its meaning. Everyone’s favorite far-too-convenient Internet source, Wikipedia, defines absurdist literature as “a genre of literature that focuses on the experiences of characters in a situation where they cannot find any inherent purpose in life, most often represented by ultimately meaningless actions and events.” I’m about half-happy with this definition. An absurdist piece is meant throw its characters around, putting them through a series of days that are destined to have no effect on the course of their lifetimes, but I disagree with the effects of this action being “meaningless.” And I think rapper Aesop Rock would too, for his seminal album Labor Days is a cornucopia of hyper-ambiguous ramblings, ponderings, muses, and of course, poetry. Hyper-ambiguous, yes. Meaningless? Hardly.

Aesop doesn’t so much speak his wisdom as he masticates it, enthusiastically spitting it out, covered in conviction chowder. His sometimes absurd (there’s [part of] that word again) thoughts do sometimes border on the meaningless, but every single word he utters, throughout the entire album, is dropped inside of a very arresting context, a context driven by Aesop’s crazy conviction and obviously hyper-acidic creative juices, that manages to make everything he says sound like it’s a matter of life and death. It’s like the words are given meaning by Aesop’s intense desire to make sure every word can have meaning for the particular person listening. Whenever he begins a new (possible) extended metaphor off the rhyme that came before it, he makes sure to carry it on, consistently creating consistent images through the album’s whole duration, like in ‘One Brick:’

“When little Billy bought a tugboat,
Now he thinks he’s Captain Ahab
Fascist takes for the peg-leg’s birds and eye patches,
Learn that lesson, you’ll be swashbuckling with the best of ‘em”


But Aesop’s rhymes don’t always border on the meaningless. In fact, remember that ‘context’ I was talking about earlier, and the fact that despite each song on Labor Days having literally oodles of images to be intrigued by, you can still note each song having similar images tying everything together, remember that? It creates for some seriously emotionally hard-hitting, and puzzlingly affecting poetry. Take the hook of ‘Daylight,’ for instance, “All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day and put the pieces back together my way.” He’s not coming out and directly pointing at the feeling that’s supposed to be implied in this line, and yet it’s still impossible to not relate to it. That’s a poetic feat, my friends. And the poetic feats on this album could probably fill around twelve volumes of encyclopedionaries.

So basically, Aesop’s lyrics are a stunning combination of tinker toy words- words that you can put meaning in and take meaning out of, depending on your mood- schizophrenic storytelling, and charmingly obnoxious and puzzlingly comical ways to say something else (again, poetry). This is shown perfectly in ‘Coma,’ when Aesop says “Catch more z’s than Rip Van Winkle’s 12-step narcolepsy seminar.” And in ‘Battery,’ with “Prodigal son with a prodigal wish to sew that prodigal stitch, and crucify bigot voodoo doll on two popsicle sticks.” And again in ‘Boombox,’ with this epic stanza:

“Does it ice grill you, or is every song faceless?
Does it have a title? If it didn’t, would you name it?
Does it babble about nothing like a drunk atheist?”


But to add even more variation, Aesop also throws in a few lines that so obviously have a significant and relevant meaning, be it a satire on America’s growing technological dependence (“If the revolution ain’t gon’ be televised, then ***, I’ll probably miss it,” from ‘Coma’), a muse on morality (“Don’t tell me Lucifer and God don’t carpool,” from ‘Battery’), or an editorial on being one of the kings of the prog-hop scene (“Dwarfed by the lights, bewildered by the fan base, bound by an idea, skeptical of the handshakes,” from ‘The Yes and the Y’all’). And during other times on the album, you don’t even have to overanalyze anything like a pretentious, pseudo-intellectual ***stick (kinda like that guy who wrote that one Labor Days review for Sputnik on May 17th, 2012), and the words just sound ***ing cool together.

“Okay, welcome to the kamikaze bottle rocket cockpit,
Live by the icy hand of bad intention youth blender
Oh yeah, I’ll let God warm the bench for now,
But I’ll ascend to spin y’all dizzy,
And for the record, I’m bringin’ my TV with me!”


Damn.

But oh, yes, this is a hip-hop album. The poetry is so unorthodox and oddly arresting that it’s hard to not think you’re listening to the world-changing brain products of some sort of psilocybin Shakespeare, and actually pay some attention to the perfectly crafted beats that give the words an emotional path to walk on. That flute that glides around the beat of ‘Daylight’? Yeah, it’s probably one of the reasons that song was this album’s single. And the strings bouncing through the background of ‘No Regrets,’ the heavy drums of ‘Boombox,’ and the eerie, off-balance rhythm of ‘Save Yourself’ are all equally enthralling. Pieces of beats are strategically removed and added in order to accentuate certain lyrics, and it’s always done with the touch of a master. Honestly, the beats show signs of someone who knew exactly what he was doing, and play an undeniably vital role in the excursion, the adventure, the absolute ***ing trip this album is.

Aesop is already pretty highly regarded in his scene, but I’m of the opinion that he deserves even more. To take a style of poetry, a style of art, so inherently inaccessible, and inject it with the soul of the most concrete of Biggie’s East Coast gangsta’ tales, is something truly worthy of a medal. Labor Days is a ‘classic’ in the sense that it just might be the best representation of what it is, a wildly successful experiment in “saying one thing and meaning another.” The album bleeds the feeling that even though “Dragonball Z/Speed Racer gene splicing” sounds like a distant, pointless fantasy, it could mean everything. In ‘Bent Life,’ Aesop observes “that cat at my shows that’s always got prophetic opinions but can’t remember where his drink is.” Labor Days is so chock-full of that engrossing, stimulating, for some reason fist-pumping energy, that it makes me wanna be that cat. Some may think all the potential meaning in the songs of Labor Days fell through the cracks, and I’d simply tell these folks that they’re listening to the album the wrong way. Listening to the album is essentially being inside those cracks, scraping off just the right amount of meaning you want. Labor Days is freedom, it’s insanity, it goes from brazen and boisterous to humble restraint, and everything in between. Its ideas are different to everyone who hears them, but they’re always beautiful. It’s…poetry.



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4.1
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Comments:Add a Comment 
YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

site's not letting me put all the 'fucks' back in, but whatevs i'll do it later

anywho, i'm baaaack. this needed a high review so yeah

MMX
May 18th 2012



4784 Comments


Why the only review before this was a 3.5 is beyond me

Digging: 68 - In Humor and Sadness

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the other review's not very good either, honestly lol

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

blasphemy, potato

blasphemy

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i see. what'd you think of the review?

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

oh

well idk i worked kinda hard on it man

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ohhhh

well there ya go haha

xandermander
May 18th 2012



626 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Awesome review, awesome album, and one of the only rappers I can get into.

ZedO
May 18th 2012



1096 Comments


site's not letting me put all the 'fucks' back in, but whatevs i'll do it later

You must italicize one of "fuck" letter; FUCK. It's the trick, Sputnik's auto-censor won't work...

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

'No Regrets' is waaaay too good. one of my favourite hip-hop albums for sure. I'll never understand why half of the hip-hop fans in the world seem to hate Aes and similar rappers. , but so it goes.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 18th 2012



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"You must italicize one of "fuck" letter; FUCK. It's the trick, Sputnik's auto-censor won't work..."

a better way to do it is change the size of one letter (to the default size so it changes nothing, just breaks up the word for the censore). such as f[size =2]u[/ size]ck (but without the spaces inside the square brackets)

ZedO
May 18th 2012



1096 Comments


haha, thanks for the trick ;]

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2012



10010 Comments


Holy hell, fantastic review friend. Love Aesop, and can't wait until his next album.

Digging: Deniro Farrar - Rebirth

Maniac!
May 18th 2012



26246 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII start my city with a brick

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks for the feedback guys :]

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"one of the only rappers I can get into."

if you like Aesop, you might like other unorthodox hip-hop similar to him, like anything El-P related, particularly his solo album Fantastic Damage (Aesop is actually on the track 'Delorean'), Company Flow's Funcrusher Plus, and Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein. If you haven't heard those already.


Inveigh
May 18th 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this is the review this album always deserved, major props


probably one of my 5-6 favorite hip hop albums ever

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

surprised you didn't review it man haha

Inveigh
May 18th 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

haha a long time ago I had a half-written review for it, saved on an old computer. always planned to finish it but then the hard drive crashed and I didn't have a back-up so I said fuck it.

there were a few other 'half-cocked concepts' on that thing...

YetAnotherBrick
May 18th 2012



4396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

aw man that sucks

well.. thanks for lettin me steal the glory here XD



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