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New American Songbook

New American Songbook: Aesop Rock Requires Zen Listening


The newest offering from lyricist Aesop Rock, titled The Impossible Kid, is his most cogent to date. While Aesop Rock has been long known for his enormous vocabulary and complicated rhyme structures, this album still delivers an overflow of imagery, but with a focus and precision that was only approached in his earlier efforts.

Listening to Aesop Rock takes some amount of effort, in a kind of zen way—you have to learn to let go of trying to make sense of it, and let him speak. He writes a kind of magical realism, nouns appear from every direction, the lyrics aren’t coded so much as the vast array of external impressions are de-coded and brought to bear on Aesop’s own internal processes.

Much has been written already about Aesop’s ‘growing up’: he’s forty years old, hip hop is forty years old—where has the time gone? I keep thinking that it’s about time for some adult reflection in hip hop, a reassessment of priorities, a calculated cataloging of what we have, and who we are. Who knows? We may find that we’re doing just fine, everything is good. Or, perhaps like Aesop Rock, we may just be amazed that we’ve made it this far, that we’re still here despite the world’s best efforts to the contrary.