Going through my entire itunes library on shuffle the other day, something I seldom do (I'm a sucker for playlists), I came across this song.
Prefuse 73 feat. Aesop Rock-"Sabbatical With Options"
An interesting song, if you don't mind Aesop Rock "delivery" or Prefuse 73's "hip-hop production," one line in particular caught my attention. At the 1:59 mark, Aesop spits "Tigers and bears who will hold down New York/ I will be back to reclaim if I'm bored."
This got me to thinking, what if Aes Rock really was the king of New York? What would that entail? How would it shape the rap game?
To start this admittedly bizarre argument, we'll need a referrence point. So, we'll compare Aesop's hypothetical success to once, or possibly current if that's your thing, New York king Jay-Z, who now carries all the mainstrream appeal of Mr. Lif or Slug from Atmosphere, who themselves now carry the success of Method Man and Redman respectively.
A parallel of albums would further justify the comparison; both released crtically acclaimed albums in '03 before taking a previously unprecedented hiatus from recording. Though Aesop Rock's Kingdom Come, None Shall Pass, has not come out yet, the first single, also the album's title track, will shed some light on what the new sound of New York would be.
Aesop Rock-"None Shall Pass"
Icy, dark and stripped-down, it is decreed that this is the new party sound under the rule of Rock. "None Shall Pass" would be the kind of jam one would be drooling over before it was even heard just by looking at the line-up: another Aesop Rock/Blockhead collaboration. To all you underground, backpacker nerds, think of it like when Hov and Just Blaze make some of that dull, horn-ladened, "get up and move" tediousness. Weak. Fast cars, women and booze don't make up a party anthem. I mean, a party song about partying? How trite. Where's the political conspiracy? The ironic pop culture referrencing? I'm pretty sure "Show Me What You Got" doesn't even use the word "laser" once. Yawn.
A king is only as good as he is versatile. So what should the King of New York do to show that he can roll with any style? How about get behind a beat used by up-and-coming New York group Wu Tang Clan and then do a track with the king of the West Coast, Del Tha Funkee Homosapian. Now that would be fire.
Aesop Rock & Del Tha Funkee Homosapian-"Preservation"
But of course, the King isn't all serious. I mean, anti-party party tracks and coast-to-coast chest thumping (Just listen to how proud they both sound on "Preservation." They're both so used to the crown that they don't have to sound interesting or even awake anymore!), takes a lot out on the greatest spitting for the East Coast. So, what do you do for fun?
Aesop Rock feat. MF Doom & Slug-"Put Your Quarters Up"
Tracks about video games. Forget about pimping, fellas, Aesop's got a whole new kind of game you can spit: high scores. And can we discuss that MC dream team? Number one, it's refreshing to hear cats like Doom on the mic. All this underground hubbub about MCs that can switch flows and styles and completely "destroy" tracks (Busta Rhymes I'm looking at you) is just so corny. I think it's great that Doom can rhyme with the same style and voice over anything you give him. That shit's skill. And Slug, where do I start? Number one, that whole northern Midwest region is blowing up these days. I mean, Eyedea's coming out hard. My man Brother Ali's doing it real big and my homey P.O.S. has definitely got next. And of course Atmosphere is doing their thing. I don't know who this "Lil Wayne" character is, but I bet he can't spit about his personal drama like Slug can. I bet he can't open up and reveal how he's feeling like Slug can. And I know he can't make an esoteric referrence to the 80's like Slug can.
Bonus Thought: If Aesop Rock is the Jay-Z of New York, that would most certainly make El-P his Kanye West. And just like Mr. West, El-P's a "progressive" enough artist to get down and work with artist's that aren't as popular as he is. As evidenced here:
El-P & Ghostface Killah-"Hide Ya Face"