Part of an ongoing series intended to edify one-time underground darlings about how to age gracefully in rap. Fuck your insincere Lil Bow Wow collaborations or euro-trash Ed Hardy dance-rap (we all see you Kweli), Aesop Rock and Blockhead continue to sustain relevance a decade after Float fractured the minds of a nation of bong-toting freshmen. Late last week, the two of them released separate tracks on Aesop’s odditorium cum website, 900 Bats.
The first is Block’s “Stop Cryin’ Yo,” which wraps a synth that sounds like a cat crying, around dusty drums and downtempo pianos. Unlike most producers who attempt to ape a particular aesthetic or new trend, the man behind Phat Friend aims to conjure a specific mood — usually somewhere between napping at a Turkish opium den and late night prowl through New York in search of a Turkish opium den. Not to say that he can’t mix it up (see “None Shall Pass,” “Forest Crunk,” et. al), but he specializes in pairing the cinematic flourishes of trip-hop with the rugged stomp of classic boom-bap. It’s rarely fancy but it’s ruthlessly effective.
Meanwhile, Aesop remixes and rhymes 16 bars on Dirty Ghost’s “Shout it In” — the Kills gone psych rock project from his wife Allyson Baker (formerly of Parchman Farms). Add another bullet to the number of effective rock and rap collaborations over the last two years — it is in the guys name after all. But whereas the production on stuff like Blackroc was often too cluttered and suffocating, this is looser and organic. An NYC upbringing meeting the Bay Area breeze or Jefferson Airplane meeting the Jux.