To me, Aesop Rock has always been an emcee whose work I have only experienced as collaborative on other artist’s albums, and even then my knowledge of the Northport, NY, native is rather limited. I do have to say, though, that his track with Del on Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture is easily my favorite from that album. But despite what little I know of Aes, I knew for sure that every time I heard him, I always dug his raspy vocals laid over tight beats, so I was assured that I’d be in for a treat upon hearing his latest venture.
Under the name Hail Mary Mallon (a moniker derived from the first person to be identified as a carrier of typhoid fever whose job as a cook aided in the spread of the disease) Aesop and his two cohorts deliver a performance which, as the title suggests, is indeed quite infectious.
Rob Sonic (left), Aesop Rock (centre), DJ Big Wiz (right)
HMM is a group two-years-in-the-making composed of two emcees (Rock and Rob Sonic) alongside DJ Big Wiz, who has some history with Aesop after contributing some scratches to his Nike+ effort. After a digital release in early May of the crew’s debut LP, Are You Gonna Eat That?, physical copies (both vinyl and CD) were released on June 7th on Rhymesayers.
Despite his history of joint participation on other artists’ albums (with Kimya Dawson being the most recent), Hail Mary Mallon is Aes’s (and Rob’s) first true group effort, and being as so, one might think that such a venture as an entire album may come across as unnatural and contrived. In one interview, Aes states his appreciation of being able to welcome the challenge of the team collaboration between both members, claiming that having the ability to draw ideas from one another proves to be beneficial. Such an undertaking may seem especially extraordinary seeing as how the alternative hip-hop artist records another solo album (900 Bats) and assumes production responsibilities for upcoming albums for both Dawson and electro indie-pop group, the Dirty Ghosts.
As expected, Are You Gonna Eat That? is an impressive production as each track introduces fresh samples, beats, cuts, and scratches. The album opener, Church Pants, immediately gets your head nodding with its tight snare and cymbal line and each rhythmic drop of the bass. Rock and Sonic’s vocals arrive per their usual crunchy style and are enunciated with precision.
Garfield, the second track, is the album’s second single (next to Smock). Now, despite being a single, Garfield is far from your average catchy-tune, everybody’s-gonna-like-it track. Garfield is easily the hardest track on the album; the scratching and sampling done by Wiz is absolutely mind-blowing. With a killer bass line and an underlying guitar track alongside the varied lyrical delivery of Aes and Sonic, Garfield gets the listener psyched for the remaining ten works of art on the album. Fortunately, a good majority of the disc is on par with the first two tunes.
The third single of Are You Gonna Eat That?, Meter Feeder, pops up at the number four slot on the disc. What I perceive as a lamentation of one’s experience waiting in line at a DMV or courthouse, Aes drops many shared feelings in the form of analogies, including one relating to the movie Beetlejuice in which the Ghost With the Most draws number 9,998,383,750,000 while the “Now Serving” counter sits at “03”. Aside from the fun lyrical play, Meter Feeder certainly proves itself worthy of a single thanks to all parties involved.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/03-Grubstake-Explicit.mp3″ text=”Hail Mary Mallon – Grubstake” dl=”0″]
A couple of the tracks are wonderfully reminiscent of old-school b-boy hip-hop albums in that the various members partake in a back-and-forth, alternating lines of each verse, such is the case with numbers three (Grubstake) and seven (Breakdance Beach). The latter of the two seems an homage to the golden days of East Coast hip-hop breakdance battles on Take-Your-Pick street corner. It’s not the most technical or noteworthy joint on the album, but it’s catchy and fun nonetheless.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/07-Breakdance-Beach-Explicit.mp3″ text=”Hail Mary Mallon – Breakdance Beach” dl=”0″]
Other stand-outs on the disc include The Poconos. This one stood out to me with its grungy guitar, consistent bass kicks, and the steady rhythm of the vocal delivery by both emcees. Mailbox Baseball also for the same reasons as above but with way harder beats, less guitar, and some serious scratching.
[wpaudio url=”https://www.thewordisbond.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/09-Mailbox-Baseball-Explicit.mp3″ text=”Hail Mary Mallon – Mailbox Baseball” dl=”0″]
Are You Gonna Eat That is altogether a high-quality album; it’s well produced, well performed, and, most importantly, not that repetitive (I probably listened to it no less than 20 times (my Last.FM stats can attest to this) before writing this without once thinking, “I’m sick of this damn disc already!”). Check out the digital download now or order the CD/vinyl release at Rhymesayers. I might gotta cop that vinyl. The artwork (by mulleted mastermind Coro) and the etched vinyl are looking pretty damn sexy…
[easyreview title="Word Is Bond Rating" cat1title="Lyrics" cat1detail="The clever wordplay flows out of either emcee despite how serious or jovial the topic, with several songs referring back to the group's moniker." cat1rating="4.5" cat2title="Production" cat2detail="Beats and samples for days!" cat2rating="5" cat3title="Originality" cat3detail="Not just a single album dedicated to a disease, but the entire group name?" cat3rating="4.5" cat4title="Replayability" cat4detail="Enough variation throughout most of the tracks to make the listener want to give this a spin fairly frequently (slows down about halfway through but picks right back up)." cat4rating="4" summary="This is a must-have! It's pretty hard to find any serious flaw in this album."]