Aesop Rock // Skelethon // July 10 // Rhymesayers Entertainment
Skelethon is a word made of “skeleton” and “marathon”. Ultimately, that’s exactly what it is, a bare, no bullshit march that doesn’t stop for anyone in its path. Then again, in 2012 we are used to left field, independent hip hop albums that just cut the bullshit and punch you in the throat. Killer Mike did that, El-P did that to a lesser extent. Somewhere between colossal beats and social aware rhymes we find Aesop Rock’s first record in five years.
Skeleton is an independent record through and through. It’s the first Aesop Rock LP to not feature any collaboration with other MCs. It’s fitting then that Skelethon feels like a record made by a reclusive nihilist, someone who couldn’t be less concerned by what is popular among the hip hop crowd at the moment. Lyrically Skelethon is very much a night time album, not your typical one though. Skelethon feels lonely, abandoned in a big city. The beats are made of clangs, stuttering keyboards and everything in between that go against the club friendly nature of the general, southern looking hip hop of the present day. Skelethon’s urban dread doesn’t make it a part of either eastern or western scene. The closest thing that comes to Skelethon’s darkness and rebelliousness this year is The Money Store’s slowest moments but even that’s vague as fuck.
Aesop Rock was never the one to be simple when it comes to writing a rhyme and his sixth record is no different from the previous ones. A lot of it sounds like Danny Brown if he sounded ten times more clever. It almost takes away from the punchy nature of music but then again complaining about the subtlety of Aesop Rock’s rhymes is complaining about the man himself as this is a part that will always stay in his music. Even if he does sound like Ghostface Killah sometimes, dropping all these words that don’t always make sense, he at least sounds like he means every single syllable. It makes Skelethon a worthwhile record for hip hop nerds who are willing to spend time to dissect every single meaning that there is to the songs on here. Otherwise, the 15 songs found on here can be sometimes taxing. The beats don’t have anything on El-P’s and Killer Mike’s record and you’re mostly left with Rock telling you his stories. You will either pretend that you feel him and doze off or lap up everything he says. Skelethon’s main charm is how it doesn’t have to do that much to be this dividing.
On Skelethon Aesop Rock feels like an elder statesman sticking to his guns while delivering something that made him good in the first place. There are some advances but this is 100% Aesop Rock. That’s also what gives the album its biggest appeal in the current chase-the-trends world. Just like Cancer 4 Cure then, Skelethon is sometimes pleasing, self-obsessed, in the mainstream sense of word, slab of hip hop that is 100% focused on itself. I suppose it does just what you would expect from an alternative hip hop veteran sticking to his guns and not allowing any light into his world.