Once part of Definitive Jux, one of the most famous underground rap labels with artists such as El-P, Company Flow, Cannibal Ox, and Del the Funky Homosapien, Aesop Rock was known for his wide vocabulary and storytelling ability. My problem with Aesop is just losing what he’s talking about akin to the feeling of Jay Electronica, but Aesop is a little more confusing because he never goes as biblical or deep as Jay does which adds to the frustration of seeming like I should know what he’s talking about so why am I lost? Whether you like his raps or not, his newest record The Impossible Kid has some of the best beats made this year.
A duo comprised of Heems from Das Racist and Riz Ahmed, a British actor from HBO’s The Night Of, Nightcrawler, and the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One, Swet Shop Boys probably wrote the first song about being harassed at airport security. A record about the fear and racial profiling of brown-skinned people in the U.S., Cashmere comes off more odd and zany than it does seeming politically aware, like most of Heems’ post-Das Racist activity. Besides Riz’ pure existence here, he actually has better verses than Heems most of the time, who’s affinity to just say the most mundane things come as either lazy or charmingly naive.
Kool’s had a busy year. As the other half of Das Racist, Kool’s solo career has also suffered the fate of being, well… bad. That hasn’t stopped him from releasing eight projects this year thus far however, most of which contain upwards of 100 songs. All Love and Real Talk are odd remixes of popular rap songs, Is Dead is like a lo-fi surf-rock project, Tomorrow is a raucous and dark rap record, Zig Zag Zig and Peyote Karaoke are too goddamn long for the material, Official harks back to 80’s sounding beats, and Have A Nice Dream is just odd. I don’t know how many more Kool A.D. projects I can honestly listen to, but this guy really just never lets up.