Aesop Rock is the most consistent and profound underground rapper in recent memory. Much like his contemporaries, he adopted an alter ego — Bazooka Tooth — to further entangle his enigmatic lyrics and persona. But, where most rhymers only adopt these names to enhance their legacy and complicate their identity, his differing guises control his production, lyrics and moods. Aesop’s organic instrumentation and optimistic verses are in constant limbo with Bazooka’s aggressive demeanor and harsh, electronic beats. His latest EP Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives is an emotional mash-up of these two masks.
At first listen, Fast Cars seems to be another typical Bazooka Tooth release. Repeated listens, however, revel the lighter side of Aesop seeping through the cracks of many of Bazooka Tooth’s confrontational beats. Even the EP’s demeanor is bipolar. “Number Nine” is a lighthearted track that leads way to the combative, dark “Zodiaccupuncture.”
Despite the EP’s schizophrenic feel, Aesop is able to craft catchy choruses — the most common aspect missing from underground hip-hip — for nearly every song. On past releases, Aesop’s tracks were five-minute rants devoid of hooks and catchy lyrics. If it weren’t for his impeccable, intellectual flow, his albums would be monotonous soapbox screams.
Possibly the most valuable feature of Fast Cars is the 88-page insert with the lyrics to every Aesop track. Not only do Aesop fans finally begin to understand his flow, but it also gives them a view into the jumbled mind of the MC. Because Aesop spits with such fury and speed, it is often difficult to comprehend all of his references. The book enhances Fast Cars and is a valuable addition to Aesop’s catalog.
Fast Cars is Aesop Rock’s most accessible release to date. While lacking some of the more obscure references that made him a standout artist, he is still able to compile a frustratingly smart and appealing collection of songs.
Rating: 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars