Fast Cars, Danger, Fire And Knives EP
It’s difficult to chart the average MC’s career in terms of consistent quality. Think about it: now that two years have passed, you can probably admit that you didn’t exactly understand half of the last Outkast record, and that most of those skits were pretty stupid. The argument can be curbed to favor more unrelenting underground artists, but it’s still a flavor-of-the-month world as far as who can maintain the spotlight. Enter Aesop Rock, aka Ian Bavitz, aka the Long Island kid who fell in with the indomitable El-P and Definitive Jux records, hip-hop’s reigning no holds barred avant lyricist. Birthed from a darker tradition where stories and tongue torturing rhymes trumped the usual rookie braggadocio, Aesop’s last few records have shown increasing confidence and nary an overextended track.
Now, on the heels of the stunning Bazooka Tooth, Aesop Rock drops the limited edition Fast Cars, Danger, Fire And Knives EP, and while the opportunity to unload a stop-gap chunk of filler was there, the product does not disappoint. The EP’s seven tracks prove that having a good time in the studio doesn’t have to result in a record full of shitty in-jokes and control room laughter.
Aesop hits hard, going after everything from the hand that feeds (“Never mind the bullocks. Like every other week, these hipster tabloids jumping on and off my sex pistol’s bullets”) to admittedly simplistic humanitarian observation (“Food, clothes, medicine, cuz hungry, naked, sick sucks”), skewering everything in his path and regurgitating it all with a sly vocabulary and ample alliteration. Fast Cars does include the obligatory special guest track, with El-P and CamuTao trading lines on ‘Rickety Rackety’, but as the album’s only possible misstep, it further proves that Aesop was doing just fine on his own.
And here’s the extra incentive (i.e. why you shouldn’t just burn your friend’s copy): Fast Cars also includes an 88 page book entitled The Living Human Curiosity SideShow, a compendium of lyrics from the last five Aesop releases. It’s self-aggrandizing, sure, but it’s also beautifully crafted and a welcome reference for anyone who has ever tried to wrap their head around some of the artist’s more obtuse rhymes. Shuffle through, check out the second verse in ‘The Greatest Pac-Man Victory In History’, and marvel at the fact that every word in the paean to underage psychedelic abuse starts with an l, s, or d. Then settle in, pull out your old records, and realize that not only did you have the words wrong, but that most of them really do deserve publication.