Aesop Rock — Spirit World Field Guide — Album Review

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Hip-Hop | Acid Rap

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Despite the hip-hop alias of Northport, New York artist Ian Matthias Bavitz, known as Aesop Rock, being on the scene since 1996, my first real experience listening to the rapper would come with his 2019 collaborative project with TOBACCO, titled Malibu Ken.

My decision to listen to that project was mainly down to the fact that it was still very early on in the year of 2019, and thus when I saw an album that was getting solid praise, it convinced me to give this album a shot. Overall, I found that project to be incredibly solid myself, but the stand-out pro to pick out from it would have to be the quirky lyrics and unwavering flow from Aesop Rock himself.

My interest in this artist seemed to follow through upon discovering the single “Rogue Wave”, which was released towards the beginning of this year. Having this song as an approximation of sorts to gather what Aesop Rock sounds out of a collaboration, I definitely liked what I heard.

But despite all of that, I was unaware of Aesop Rock’s newest solo album Spirit World Field Guide, until I stumbled across it (courtesy of TheNeedleDrop).

The eighth studio album from Aesop Rock, Spirit World Field Guide had only been teased by two tracks “The Gates” and “Pizza Alley” (“Rogue Wave” doesn’t make the billing on this new album), but obviously I would be venturing into this spirit world completely afresh, eagerly awaiting all of the trippy musical wonders that may ensue.

And indeed, there is a lot to get through on this project, which I feel really reflects how Aesop Rock wanted to make this a real experience of an album. To be clear, Spirit World Field Guide has a total of 21 tracks, and an overall runtime that clocks in at just over an hour.

And yet again, we indeed have another case of an extensive yet enjoyable project, Spirit World Field Guide is absolutely bursting with character, and the most praisable thing about it would have to be just how fun it sounds at its many great points. It feels unmistakably like an album that could only come from the mind of Aesop Rock, which is a great quality for this album to have.

Starting off with an intro track, it definitely feels like a decent attempt to tie the theme of this album together. But while I love the aesthetic behind the albums sound, it feels more gritty than spiritual in my opinion. And thus, my focus moved away from the thematic nature of Spirit World Field Guide, and instead went towards the bare enjoyability of the album.

And while it is still impressive that the majority of tracks hit the mark on an album as extensive as this one, it was of course expected from me that some of them fell into the realm of dud territory. I felt that the majority of interludes slipped into this, but there were also a few full tracks that didn’t carry that same level of impact as the more enjoyable tracks on here, most likely due to being too repetitive or weirdly produced. But fortunately, this doesn’t apply to most of what’s on here, in which both the production and wordplay works together awesomely.

I would definitely recommend Spirit World Field Guide to anybody looking for a project that carries strong RTJ2 vibes, as the quirkiness and engagement of this album certainly delivers on that front. But furthermore, this is a brilliant album for listeners to purely and simply enjoy.

Favourite Tracks: The Gates | Button Masher | Coveralls | Fixed and Dilated

Least favourite Track: Boot Soup

Rhymesayers Entertainment LLC

8/10

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My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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