Aesop Rock

Bazooka Tooth

(Def Jux)

Aes Rizzle is on some serious fantasy shit. For his second Def Jux full-length, Bazooka Tooth, he re-imagines the sci-fi desolation of NYC, which his pal El-P purveyed on Fantastic Damage. But if El-P is Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, Aesop Rock is Charlton Heston in Omega Man. (Hence his newish alter-ego, Bazooka Tooth--he shoots words like bullets from his gleaming headgear, AKA "the grossest fang[s] in showbiz.") And, like the landscape of Omega Man, Bazooka Tooth's world is ruinous and post-apocalyptic, burnt-out and populated with savages. On "NY Electric," he depicts a future where the Def Jux "company Delorean is the shit" and NY is filled with "burners/ pigs/magnums/crack/bag ladies/ roach bait/ pristine kicks threading the iris of the needle."

With September 11 and Jam Master Jay's murder as the jumpoff--two recurring points in Bazooka Tooth's narrative, which has been in the works for over two years since his last full-length, Labor Days--Aesop twists his usual mind-boggling, quadruple-entendre rhymes into a dense-as-hell landscape that's more cynical than ever, and sharper by extension. It's Aes Rizzle doing what he does best--turning layered meaning into visually explicit tales--but he's also at his most empathy-inspiring. He sounds newly misanthropic, his diction grittier and glassier, and yet, he's still spitting on next-level cadences that'll leave you reeling.

When Aes refers to LSD in "The Greatest Pac-Man Victory in History," he means "Life Sucks, Dickhead"--and that's his steelo here, as he addresses corporate ownership, "Babies with Guns," and, on a great El-P guest track, the wackness of "super scientifical geniuses-turned-underground thug who think hiphop is dead, but can't get their fuckin' style outta '94." Aes does most of his own production (excepting a couple beats made by El and Blockhead) to dark effect, jam-packing unidentifiable, melodic samples and beats that match the density of his lyricism. On "Limelighters," his banging, synth-y sci-fi junk-jam, guests Camp Lo (!) rap "as far as I can see/ the limelight stays on and on and on." Almost as an afterthought, Aesop adds, "so we got somethin' built if we all die tonight." Bazooka Tooth is nihilism spelled out in 1001 different ways.