Every once in a while an MC comes along who has the ability to reaffirm listeners' faith in hip-hop as a medium for intelligent, poetic, personal expression. Aesop Rock is one such MC, and LABOR DAYS is his defining statement. A flagship artist of the underground label Def Jux, Aesop Rock brings a style that is blisteringly fast, impossibly dense, and overflowing with metaphors, images, puns, references, and narratives. Rock's voice and attack--a rapid-fire, somewhat nasal monotone--borrows from Kool Keith and Eminem, yet his highly literate rhymes are uniquely his own.
Aesop Rock's music is the antithesis of flashy, R&B-based commercial hip-hop, and his politically conscious, culturally aware lyrics are galaxies removed from the thug/gangster themes of hardcore rap. Intriguing samples, featuring instruments like flute and sitar, flesh out the beats, but this is lyric-centered hip-hop, and Rock gives us plenty to absorb. Absorbing character-based narratives ("No Regrets") and slicing, alliterative tunes ("Daylight," with its infectious, memorable chorus) are testaments to the rapper's sophisticated lyrical superiority.