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Musical Pairings: Aesop Rock – Bazooka Tooth (paired w/ mussels in spicy tomato broth)

The mussels in spicy tomato broth recipe Kasey and I prepared this weekend owned it.  It was full of flavor.  It was filing.  It was delicious.  And the sriracha hot sauce, of course, is not only tasty, but it also packs some real heat.  So this recipe calls for a muscular pairing that also has heat and complexity.  And for this reason, I’ve selected Aesop Rock‘s 2003 Bazooka Tooth.  Its a complex, but rewarding album featuring Aesop Rock’s distinct abstract lyrics delivered with an equally unique delivery atop fractured, occasionally disorienting melodies and thumping beats.  It’s not for everyone, but if you are turned-off by the idea of underground hip-hop that thinks outside of the box – you’re sure to enjoy this.

From the thickset beats to the darkly bobbing bass-lines, you can tell that Aesop Rock set out to craft a challenging album on Bazooka Tooth.  It certainly isn’t easy listening.  But as many fans of underground music have learned, some of the best albums are challenging – and this album is a perfect example of that.  Beginning with the album’s title track, Bazooka Tooth opens with short, unrelated samples before blasting open with stuttering, ruptured melodies that sound like they’ve been dragged across the floor, and it is on top of the ruins of these devastated melodies that Aesop Rock shatters hard-edged stream-of-thought style rhymes.  And despite how chaotic that might sound – it actually works.  Still, Aesop Rock choose not to pursue a scorched earth policy, and the opener is followed by one of the album’s most accessible tracks – “N.Y. Electric” – where Aesop Rock rails against “shitty rap artists”: “Skipper’s out of happy pills again, he’s in the neighbors garbage (ah Skippy) / He’s making paper dolls decorated with targets (don’t do it) / He’s labeling the dolls with the names of shitty rap artist (no) / Then tearing out the still beating heart from the loose-leaf carcass.”  And on the remainder of the album, Aesop Rock sounds exactly like a talented word-smith who is frustrated by the lack of ingenuity in the rap scene.  This is especially true with regard to his progressive lyrics.  But regardless of how dense and unique said lyrics are on the remainder of the album, it is really the combination of Aesop Rock’s delivery and his subversive production that provide the momentum for these cuts.  This is one I highly recommend.  Buy it at Amazon.

Aesop Rock – We’re Famous (feat. El-P)
Aesop Rock vs. Portishead – Babies With Guns / Roads (J. Kingz Remix)

Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for mussels in spicy tomato broth.

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Posted by Matthew Hickey

Matthew is the music editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. He’s addicted to vinyl records, pour over coffee, craft beer, small batch bourbon, and pan roasting pork chops.

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