Review Summary: Skillful, Interesting, and Well-Thought-Out, Aesop Rock's debut album is not one to be missed.
The underground scene in music is a world that is undiscovered by many, but attentively followed and loved by others. That being said, it is a bit tough finding something that is worthwhile. Many of these "Backpack Rappers" or "Indie Rappers", as some call them, are as pretentious and irritating as "Mainstream Rappers" are uninteresting and shallow. They seem to believe that just because they aren't mainstream that they are more "Real" than anyone else, and thus can act as entitled as they want. Fortunately, that is not the case with San Francisco's own Ian Bavitz, better known as "Aesop Rock".
"Music for Earthworms" is his first album, one that is as underground as its title suggests. The album starts out with a classic cut, "Abandon All Hope", a complete dismantling of common hip-hop twisted around and re-shaped into a poetic masterpiece that seems to make no sense at all, and yet, all the sense in the world at the same time. From the first line of the song, we know we're in for a ride:
"Is it love such as that which I exhibit for my practice"
The factor which amalgamates the baits with straight-jackets and robes,
huddled in brackets that blacken the average globe,
Xenophobe, loathe to modify the fly, feel this..."
The way I see it, he's sating that he loves rapping as much as corporations and record-labels love keeping their customers and employees slaves. The corporations want everything the same, thus they are Xenophobic (Xenophobia: Fear of change), and they hate changing anything.
That's what's so interesting and incredible about Aesop Rock. His lyrics are so in-depth and so metaphorically strong that deciphering the meaning behind it can tell us a little bit about ourselves and the world we live in. It is something that is not easily done, but in the end, you'll be satisfied with the result.
The next three tracks follow in the footsteps of "Abandon All Hope". "Wake Up Call" features another interesting rapper, Percee P, and he and Aesop make quite the duo. "The Substance" is probably the best track on the album, a six minute song in which Aesop puts on a complete clinic, not just in the substance of his rapping, but the speed as well. "Merit", with it's quirky beat and bass strings show how Aesop can rap over many different styles of beats. His skills are nearly endless. The production of the album is also very good, especially for it's time and place in the underground.
The rest of the album continues on, making a veritable Eden of metaphors, quirky beats and poetic genius. I would recommend listening to the album a few times over, as you may be taken aback by Aesop Rock's insane visionary rhymes at first. That is not uncommon, being the lyricist that he is. All through the album, Aesop makes it known that he is "Real", but does not necessarily act entitled because of it, making his attitude extremely likeable.
In the end, Aesop Rock would go on to bigger and better albums, making noise throughout the hip-hop world. However, it would be a sin to forget where he came from, to forget his roots, which is why "Music for Earthworms" is an important listen. As stated before, deciphering Aesop's lyrics is a tough task, but one that is very satisfying once completed. All in all, Aesop Rock's debut album is not one to be missed by anybody who calls themselves fans of hip-hop.