Aesop Rock's seventh solo album, The Impossible Kid, takes a markedly personal turn, resulting in one of his most emotionally striking albums to date. In fact, this is the first studio album written, produced, and performed entirely by the New York-born MC.
Accompanying the album stream is a long-form music video which re-creates Stanley Kubrick's 1980 classic horror film The Shining shot-by-shot, using wooden dolls and miniature cardboard dioramas. The Impossible Kid was assembled in two locations — a secluded barn in the woods of Washington state where Aes spent a year after departing San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon — the LP is saturated with themes of self-reflection amidst an atmosphere of tense isolation, making The Shining a logical visual companion for the music.
In an interview with The Source, the artist neatly summarized the key topics broached on the album:
The Impossible Kid is me closing in on 40 and just going over it all. It feels sorta reflective in the sense of going through some childhood memories, some family stuff, some friend stuff, some music stuff, some moments of being baffled by the youth of today, and just coping with getting older.
The chidhood memories and "family stuff" in question concern his two brothers and their Catholic upbringing in 1980s Long Island. The "friend stuff" would be the loss of Aesop's friend and Definitive Jux labelmate Camu Tao to lung cancer at the age of 30. The "music stuff" comprises feelings of alienation from the hip hop scene, and the bafflement at the youth of today is a reflection on the young people Aesop Rock encounters at the juice bars and ice cream parlors of his everyday life.
All in all, the album reads like a one-sided therapy session, and some of The Impossible Kid's finest lines can be found on the track "Shrunk," in which he addresses his relationship with a counselor: “She said, ‘When you start getting all expressive and symbolic, it's impossible to actualize an honest diagnostic.’ / I said, ‘When you start getting all exact and algebraic, I'm reminded it's a racket, not a rehabilitation.’” This kind of dense and loquacious delivery is nothing new to fans of Aesop Rock, but the direct and plain way he addresses the subject may be more powerful than the abstruse metaphor-veiled style he is known for.
Though the production quality on The Impossible Kid is consistently high throughout the album, the beats do not vary greatly from track to track, leading some of the weaker songs to blur together. However, all of the album's music lends itself to a strong concept, and lyrically Aesop Rock is in fine form. Fans of underground and alternative hip hop are sure to find plenty to like on The Impossible Kid.
The Impossible Kid is available on Amazon. You can also stream the full album above on YouTube.
For Aesop Rock's latest music, news, and tour dates, check out his Zumic artist page.