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Labor Days
Aesop Rock
Labor Days
Genres: Pop, Rap & Hip-Hop
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1

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 ind...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Aesop Rock
Title: Labor Days
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 1
Label: Definitive Jux
Original Release Date: 1/1/2001
Re-Release Date: 9/14/2001
Genres: Pop, Rap & Hip-Hop
Styles: Experimental Rap, Pop Rap
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 600308884021

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

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CD Reviews

One of the albums you must own before you die
Alan Pounds | Minneapolis, MN | 03/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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. There isn't a dud in the mix, and although my favorite cuts constantly change, some standout tracks include "Daylight," "Coma," "Battery," and "Boombox".

Aesop Rock is not for the weak minded. If you are not into music that provokes your mind and makes you think; then you won't like this stuff. If you dwell on the fact that you cannot get inside the music because of the complexity of his messages; then this isn't for you either. This music is for people that strive on complexity, originality, and for people that look for a challenge when they push play. If this describes you, then you owe it to yourself to check out Aesop Rock's quintessential masterpiece."
Complex and Dope Def Jux ain't playing New Aesop Rock
alex panoff | 09/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Aesop Rock's new album "Labor Days" is a other reason why Def Jux is to me the best label out there. "Labor Days" is banging from start to finish. Aesop comes with his complex dope style like always, but this time has a Def Jux feel to it. This is Aesop's 4th album, and 2nd I have (Float) was the first. "Labor Days" is produced by Blockhead, Omega(Coma) and Aesop himself. I was a little dissapointed that El-P did not come with a track, but like I said "Labor Days" has that Def Jux (Can Ox) feel to it. Plus El-P working on his solo project due sometime in winter(can't wait for that one). Anyway go cop this Aesop Rock if your looking for some real hip hop and if you liked that Cannibal Ox album you will like this. This whole album(14 tracks) is dope to me. Some bangers on the album include "labor Days", "Daylight", "Save Yourself", "No Regrets", "Coma", "Boombox", "The Yes And The Yall", "9-5ers anthem". Aesop is not simple like for ex. Ja Rule so you have to listen to "Labor Days" more then once to really analyze what Aesop is saying because he is so complex. This is independent hip hop at it's best so check it out. Definitive Jux(Def Jux) is making an major impact on this hip hop industry, and does not show they will let up, but only building stronger like an ox."
4 stars
Big D | New york, USA | 03/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Ok... most of you wont know who Aesop Rock is... so ill give you a bit of history...

Aesop Rock is an emcee from New York City, like many other emcees. He is strickly underground and is signed to El-P's Definitive Jux (or Def Jux for short) record label. You will NOT find him, or any of his label mates, on MTV, or BET... or perhaps even on television at all. Before signing with Def Jux, he released three full-length, yet VERY underground EPs entitled Appleseed, Music for Earthworms, and Float. After signing with El-P's label, he released his first album on their label in 2001 entitled Labor Days, and that album is the topic of this review.

This guy has taken over the underground and true hip hop heads will recognize his name. Signing with Def Jux allowed him to collaborate with a plethora of talented underground emcees like RJD2, Mr. Lif, Cannibal Ox, and many more. He has achieved a loyal and dedicated fanbase, similar to that of which such emcees as Canibus and Eminem achieved before crossing into high success.

You may be wondering, what makes Aesop Rock special? Simple... one word: LYRICS. Like many other talented and complicated emcees before him, Aesop Rock has adapted a lyrical style NOT for a typical rap fan. He is extremely abstract, and at times weird. His words at times seem to advanced to get, even for me, and his albums are filled with a bunch of "inside" comments. However, true hip hop fans will love this for several reasons. One reason is the fact that his lyrics always make sense, you just gotta MAKE THEM make sense, if you know what i mean. Meaning youre gonna have to contemplate his words carefully. Secondly, his flow is very unique. He can abstractly switch up his tempo from fast to slow so that he can match up with the beat. The ONLY artist i know who can do this better than Aesop is Talib Kweli. His voice is very deep and raunchy, and he has the ability to do anything. He can spit complicated battle raps which set mics ablaze, intelligent subject matter, socially-conscious lyrics, and he has the storytelling ability. If he continues on this road, he will be known as one of the best pure poetic lyricists of all time. The best way to describe his style is a combination of Ras Kass, Gza, and Canibus.

As for production, this CD has strictly underground production. He joins up with unknown producers, but you can tell each of them have an extreme amount of talent and are skilled beatmakers. He is joined by Def Jux producer Blockhead, who produced the majority of the tracks on this album. But he isnt the only one, because Omega Rock comes in to do his own track. Now the pretty cool thing is that the rest of the beats are handled by Aesop Rock himself! This man proves he is multi-talented by creating his own instrumentals for him to rap over, which is pretty damn cool. Most of the beats on this album sound pretty much the same in the same style. They are primarily underground and simple, yet complicated beats, influenced by Jazz, R&B, classical, Funk, and Celtic music. There is very little scratching, but its not needed on this sort of deep album.

Question is... is this album worth buying? My answer is.... Yes. If you arent here to dance and wiggle, then yes. If you are a complicated human being who LIKES to think and LIKES to experience new point of views on daily subjects, then BUY THIS. This album has a tremendous amound of replay value. You can listen to this ten, or twenty times, without it getting old because of the fact that you have to listen very carefully to what he says, then listen again to try to interpret it into your brain. You'll wanna replay songs so that you can catch what you missed while you were contemplating one of his stanzas. So, for people like DVON, Madtheory, and Paulyoungotti, this is a must-have. But if you dont have that specific hip hop taste that we do... then be gone with you to the Nelly section of your record store.

Now its time to break it down...

1 - Labor (5 Stars)
The opening track to this album has Aesop Rock beginning his domination of the album. Over a hard rock instrumental using lots of bass and amps, along with a fast clap loop, Aesop begins with his complete domination of the track. The instrumental is very addicting, but as usual, the lyrics take the song over. Aesop spits very poetic rhymes about the state of underground hip hop, inserting braggadiocio lyrics here and there, and each lyric is full of intelligence. The break of the track features a variety of very well implemented scratches with a very celtic sound, making this easy to listen to, and entertaining.

2 - Daylight (5 Stars)
The album continues. Using an addicting soulful sound, with celtic influences, Aesop goes even higher lyrically here. By me listening to this track carefully, it seems to me that Aesop describes pure EMOTION on this track. So the song is about human emotion, which you have to listen to CAREFULLY. He exemplifies anger, hatred, sadness, lust, and struggles, which makes this a genius track. His vivid display of metaphors, similes, and multi-syllable flows completely dominate the track, but of course, its probably too smart for you. For example... read this and tell me if you understand it...

Sort of similar to most backbones at camp Icarus
Raw feelings start congregating at pamper for bickering
Life's not a b*tch life is a beautiful woman
Your only call her a b*tch because she won't let you get that p*ssy
Maybe she didn't feel y'all shared any similar interests
Or maybe you're just an a**hole who couldn't sweet talk the princess
Kiss the speaker wire or either pass it for some pagan thresh hold
Stomach full of halo kibbles
Wings span cast black of porn visuals hear the duck hunt ticker tape
Vision and pick apart the pixels

3 - Save Yourself (4 1/2 Stars)
This track loses points due to its instrumental not being so good. Featuring a xylophone snare, along with a pretty addicting, yet simple, guitar pluck, its great, but not perfect like the other tracks. On this track, Aesop returns to pure Braggadiocio lyrics, but of course, inserts poetic metaphors, similes, and advanced lyrical tactics to smash his opponents. He even sticks in some amazing storytelling. This guy is the DEFINITION of talent.

4 - Flashflood (4 1/2 Stars)
Aesop Rock BLAZES this track in one long, yet amazing verse. He returns to HIGH ADVANCED braggadicio lyrics, where he compares his style to most of the crap thats on the radio nowadays. He claims his style is heard by all throughout the underground, and respected. I agree wholeheartedly. He sort of dishes it out towards commercial hip hop on this track, and i thoughroughly enjoyed it. As for the instrumental, a very high-note guitar loop is used here, purely synthesized, along with technoish sounds. Here is a sample of some of his advanced sh*t:

Sucked the proverbial silver spoon to the parents quit apparently
Parasol spinnin casually like "I'm an artist, please don't laugh at me"
Ok, time to buckle the f*ck down
Side of the wobbly system back to original form, pumpkin
You can catch the memoir in several dimensions
The joy of life logic, don't employ the spite process
Hence, your plight botches

5 - No Regrets (5 Stars)
Aesop switches his basic style a bit here and goes into some amazing storytelling on this track. On this track, Aesop storytells about a girl / woman named Lucky, and her entire life. He raps about her struggles and hardships, which amazing, and yet he continues to say VERY advanced words. In the first verse, Lucy is 7 and she is dared to do something, which she does. In the second verse, Lucy is 37. At this point, Lucy is an artist who drew everybody she knew, but rumors were floating around about her being a slut. Amazing, and hard to understand. In the third verse, she is 87, and she is already a successful artist, then felt her demise of old age. Amazing story about never giving up in life.

She'd never spoken once throughout the spanning of her life
Until the day she leaned forward, grinned and pulled the nurse aside
And she said: "Look, I've never had a dream in my life
Because a dream is what you wanna do, but still haven't pursued
I knew what I wanted and did it till it was done
So i've been the dream that I wanted to be since day one!"
Well! The nurse jumped back,
She'd never heard Lucy even talk, 'Specially words like that
She walked over to the door, and pulled it closed behind
Then Lucy blew a kiss to each one of her pictures, and she died.

6 - One Brick f/ Illogic (4 1/2 Stars)
Aesop's first guest appearance on this album is that of Illogic from Definitive Jux. This song may be too complicated, and i dont even understand some of its meanings. I guess ill have to listen to it. To me, im figuring that Aesop and Illogic rap VERY VERY deep lyrics with unique, and hidden meanings, but it seems that they are talking about the struggles of life and how you have to take it one step at a time, and solve your problems like that. Then again, i could be wrong, but that is the way that Big D interpreted that song. If you dont think so, give me some feedback so i can try to understand it a bit better. As for the beat, it has a very jazzy and funkish feel, using soft flutes, and a simple drum loop.

I start my city with a brick (one brick)
Then add another brick (two bricks)
Brick by brick, I manufacture homes for fallen angels
I ain't no great Samaritan, that's just the way the game goes
Respect the polars but acknowlege middle-value rainbows
My snout turned up from dream factory eyelids
Slingin bottled prosperity for the kamikaze colonels
Yeah rocks the match that burned the Nazi journals
And plottin verticals amidst blatantlly horizontal
Models then swallowed by famished potholes

7 - The Tugboat Complex Pt. 3 (4 1/2 Stars)
Aesop continues with some pretty tight braggadiocio lyrics and battle raps. As usual, he remains using his introspective lyrics, storytelling prophetic flow, and a barrage of metaphors, poetic themes, similes, multi-syllable flows, and machine-gun delivery. As for the beat, it uses a soft jazz feel, using some flutes, synthesized noises, along with celtic samples and voices. Tight track.

8 - Coma (4 1/2 Stars)
Once again, another battle rap. I like this song a lot, because its even more complicated than the last track. His amazing prophetic words hit hard on the track. As for the beat, he uses a low jazz track, once again. He uses some piano keys, but the main beat is low saxophone sounds, with a deep synthesized low-key piano and some flutes. Tight Track.

I've been a biplane dog fighter Henson invention
Trooper burst result of Dragon Ball Z/Speed Racer gene splicing
Mach force, blind the extorted style from the common dirty
Destiny dream sighting, important as split the prints
God, sh*t the planet screaming "What on Earth is that?"
I sit back five dimensions
Only to muscle the overcooked specimen
Fending tragic fatality successful dodging violets
All hail Mary and hello dollies!

9 - Battery (5 Stars)
Aesop Rock gives his full tribute to the underground scene of hip hop, and what it means to him. He very descriptively describes the feeling of urban city life and how hip hop, cyphers, and freestyling combined make a very sharp and hard impact on the troubled times. He storytells about his first cypher, and how he "introduced himself as Nervous", until "Everything leads to Erosion", and then talks about the present when he says: I am an epiphany, I am wet foot mammal / Channel surfing my way to the top. See how complicated that is. Basically, he was scared when he first started, but then got better and better as he trained and practiced, which shows pretty tight social-consciousness. His words are well spoken. As for the instrumental, same as before. Celtic music mixed with jazz and some funk elements. The driving force here is a haunting violin track with some weird background sounds.

10 - Boombox (4 1/2 Stars)
This song is a bit weird. Aesop Rock touches on a variety of subjects and storytells on government, violents, hip hop, and wannabes in the game. The song has a very ominous and dark feel, as the whole album seemingly has. For a little over 5 minutes, Aesop Rock goes on an amazing lyrical display. The instrumental is like the other ones on the album, but this time its driven by a HARD drum beat, a background snare / clap combo, addicting low-key piano loop, and background violins.

11- Bent Life f/ C-Rayz Walz (4 1/2 Stars)
Aesop's second, and last guest appearance on his album is by underground artist C-Ray Walz. Basically, Aesop and C-Rayz come on the track with complicated braggadiocio raps, and there is an amazing lyric on the track where he describes the whole album's feeling. They pay tribute to the realness of the underground, and also put a bunch of disses to the commercial emcees, and talks about Teaching them how to hang. He basically destroys all of the commercial rappers and claim themselves to be on top of hip hop, which is AWESOME. As for the beat, it uses a ominous flute loop, backed by a simple violin backdrop, and a seemingly hidden drum beat.

This for the thinkers
This for the erchants allergic to they own stingers
This for the absurd verdict linkers
This for that cat at my shows that's always got prophetic opinions
but cant remember where his drink is

12- The Yes And The Y'all (4 1/2 Stars)
This track begins with an ominous acapella performance by Aesop, until the instrumental fades in deeply, which is VERY well produced. Aesop raps about all of the crap he has seen in his life, and he describes life from several points of view, spitting a bunch of VERY advanced, socially-conscious lyrics which seemingly make no sense, but if you listen closely, they do. He also inserts a bit of battle raps, braggadiocio, and storytelling, all under deep metaphors, and poetic phrases, and extrmely advanced verbs and adjectives. The instrumental has a VERY DEEP Bassline, sounding almost technoish.

13- 9-5ers Anthem (5 Stars)
One of my favorite tracks on the whole album. On here, Aesop creates an amazing tribute to all of the hard working people on Earth. He says that the hard working people of the world deserve more, which is true. Aesop storytells about a bunch of situations he has seen revolving around this topic, and about people who struggle through jobs they hate. Aesop tells people not to worry, and that soon there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As for instrumentals, he uses a VERY simple low-guitar strum loop, with a simple background chime sound. Though it may be simple, its perfectly crafted together.

I'll take my seat atop the Brooklyn Bridge
With a Coke and a bag of chips
To watch a thousand lemmings plummet just because the first one slipped
Sometimes I laugh at victory, kissing these little question marks
I tend to underestimate my average... just another bastard savage
Someday you'll all eat out of my cold hand, Cuz every dog has its day
At which point, I'll pull it away

14 - Shovel (4 1/2 Stars)
Aesop finishes the album with some tight, socially-conscious lyrics about the troubles of life, religion, and a variety of other subjects which you'll know once you listen to the album. As for the instrumental, it uses a simple drum loop, fast violin strings, chimes, a reccuring violin snare, and some synthesized sounds. An awesome ending to this album.

I give this album 4 1/2 Stars, rounded down to 4. Pick it up... if you can find it...