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Labor Days

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Audio CD, September 14, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Aesop Rock doesn't try to contend with rap music's commercial villains. Instead, on Labor Days, his first release for the Def Jux label, Aesop ignores the mainstream and displays an unshakable confidence rarely seen in independent hip-hop. Although a staccato, Dadaist delivery is his trademark, subsequent listens reveal his storytelling gifts and rhyme structures to be thick with purpose. There's also a sensitivity only hinted at on Float, his first mass release. On "Daylight," he informs, "Life is not a bitch / Life's a beautiful woman," while "No Regrets" tells the life story of a woman who only communicated through her drawings until her death in a nursing home. Thanks to production by Omega One, Blockhead, and Aesop himself, Labor Days is built upon strings, loping bass lines, nodding beats, and expert programming. Surely, this is a fine example of hip-hop's formidable underground. --Arno Kazarian


There's a serious bifurcation underway in indie hip-hop, and if we aren't careful, some journalist is going to slap genre tags on it and we'll have two distinct movements on our hands. On one side there's the "skills, skills, skills" camp that raps mostly about rap itself (Lootpack, Cali Agents), and on the other, there are those who rap about nothing at all, or at least about subjects that haven't been deemed worthy of inclusion in rap before (Anticon, Slug).

As a prime example of the latter, New York's Lower East Sider Aesop Rock uses the word "rhyme" a total of three times over the 61 minutes of Labor Days, "wack" once, and "MC" and "mic" never. He says "hip-hop" twice, and - suggesting that he might have a bone to pick with his battle-mongering counterparts across the fence - they appear in the following oblique diss: "Next time you want to be a hero/try saving something other than hip-hop/and maybe hip-hop will save you from the pit stop."

Often his rangeless voice and diction are as accessible as a meeting of the World Trade Organization ("Walking like a jabberwalkie scalping a one-way pair of tickets to shadowboxing"), with whole stanzas dropping from his lips in monolithic slabs at a cadence faster than most listeners can process. Labor Days is an overwhelming experience, and sometimes one wonders if the frustration is worth it. But after five or so years of transparent battle rhymes and industry shop-talk masquerading as content, a little confusion might be what saves less-than-commercial hip-hop from stagnation.

Darren Keast -- From URB Magazine

1. Labor
2. Daylight
3. Save Yourself
4. Flashflood
5. No Regrets
6. One Brick
7. The Tugboat Complex Pt.3
8. Coma
9. Battery
10. Boombox
11. Bent Life
12. The Yes And Y'all
13. 9-5ers Anthem
14. Shovel

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 14, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Definitive Jux
  • Run Time: 61 minutes
  • ASIN: B00005O4UY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,838 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Alan Pounds on March 11, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I've been infatuated with the underground hip-hop scene for about a year now. Which is something that more hip-hop lovers need to do, since the commercial product has gone down the toilet since the mid-90s. I bought this album from Amazon after reading all the rave reviews, and to my shocking delight, it lives up to all the hype. It's hard to pinpoint who Aesop Rock sounds like. He builds on the rapping styles of Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MC's, Dr. Octagon), Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and Andre 3000 (Outkast). "Labor Days" has got to be one of the most surprising, unique, and complex hip-hop albums I've ever heard. There isn't a lyricist out there that doesn't wish they could rhyme like this guy. His mid-blowing metaphors mixed with his thought provoking poetry builds imagery in the listeners mind that is nothing short of genius. Be warned though; this is not an album that is immediately accessible. You will not feel the power of his lyrics and messages the first time you listen to the album. It may not even be the second. But given the chance, you will learn to love these songs as they grow on you.

Aesop may be a little too much for some people. If you are looking for catchy hooks or an abundance of choruses, you will not find them here. If you are looking for bouncy, flashy hip-hop party beats, you also won't find those here. In fact, the production value of this album has nearly as much to offer as Aesop's rhymes do. The album is filled with beautiful soundscapes, many of which are sampled from the classical genre, pushing it further than Immortal Technique has. Most of the beats are slow and comfortable, which never overpower his vocals, as they are the main focus of the music. The slow music mixed with his fast rhymes make for an intense listen.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Glasgow on March 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I gave Labor Days a 5/5

Aesop Rock is my single favorite artist out right now and Labor Days was the first album I ever listened to of his...

Labor Days sat on my playlist for about 6 months, given to me by a friend to check out, never really did... Occasionally I'd hit a song on random, but I didn't bother looking at the artist or anything as it played, I have a large collection of music and I never really pay attention to what is playing if I'm working. After awhile, I started humming the beats and playing some of the lyrics in my head from `No Regrets' until I decided to hunt down the album in its entirety from my CD collection. I eventually started adding songs like `Daylight' `Save Yourself' and `Battery' to my normal playlists... eventually buying Float, Bazooka Tooth, and the Appleseed EP...

Point I'd like to make, is that Aesop, for me, was an acquired taste... took me a long time to stand his voice... even a longer time to get into his less mainstream-sounding stuff... I now listen to everything he has...

Its hard to classify Ace Rock as even an underground rapper, because if you honestly listen to his music, its unlike anything you've ever heard out there today...

I listen to mostly every kind of genre out there, but never really had a feel for anything considered `underground' on the hip-hop scene... From Aesop, I've started getting a taste for Eyedea and Abilities, Slug, Atmosphere, etc... and I feel that he has broaden my musical taste to a degree.

Aesop Rock is not for everyone... obviously... Its not `normal' by too many means, if any... Very few of his songs appeal to the masses...

However, his monotone voice, intricate beats, and unique lyrical style are a credit to his overall production...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Davis on September 4, 2004
Format: Audio CD
There is obviously a huge gap between those who feel aesop rock is a lyrical genius and others who feel as though he simply spits big words one after the other. I think from time to time we get a little bit of both from him. I'm not one to idolize anyone but I think this guy has some talent, I really liked Labor Days as well as Float. Bazooka Tooth on the other hand was nothing spectacular. I saw this guy in Philly maybe 2 or 3 years ago and he is sick live. I just don't want you guys that are reading these reviews to just brush him off simply because of a terrible review. give his stuff a listen, all the tracks may not grab you the first or even second times, but once they grab ahold you're a fan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "whitewreckloose" on October 4, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Oh my, he's done it again. I thought Float was groundbreaking, his beats may have been a little weak but once you listen again and again they grow on you like a fungus. This cat is so ILL he needs to be quarrantined. Now I don't really have desire to listen to any other M.C.. Slug is nice, I like the Sebutones, Moka Only, Binary Star, Sage, Grouch, etc. but no one flips flows like Aesop. Multi syllablic rhymes that talk about more than ice & dough. He even attacks some underground heads in " Save Yourself " These tracks have more substance to them, they don't need to grow on you, at first listen your jaw will drop to the floor. He still comes with mad complexity but it's easier to understand in a way. He even has tight hooks now, " You can dream a little dream & you can live a little dream, I'd rather live it cause dreamers always chase but never get it " I can't find a flaw on this album, it is definitely perfect. A bit short compared to Float but no filler, no more eating with Blockhead & the guest spots are nice too. Do yourself a favor, pick this up, search the net for Float, and even d/l his old stuff somewhere ( he made an LP and an EP b4 Float ) equally nice, I haven't heard any thing truly weak from this dude. I would name favorite tracks but I don't have one, they're all sick, quotables upon quotables. I hope he never stops makin music and drops every year. Aesop Rock is the greatest M.C. ever..... Overground!!!
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