The Lice EP is available for free at StonesThrow.com. The streaming player is embedded below
I’ve fucked with Aesop Rock since Labor Days, back in the Def Jux era. I can’t claim to be a huge fan, but I always liked his strong delivery and beat choice enough to gloss over the fact that I rarely knew what he was speaking on. Late last year he dropped this Lice EP, for free, with Homeboy Sandman, and I’ve been ready for some nerd rap lately. So, two rappers with weird deliveries and abstract writing? Let’s see how this collaboration turned out…
This is my first real introduction to Homebody Sandman. I’d tested one song before, but, far from wanting to seek out more, I wasn’t interested enough to even finish that one play. Where Aesop’s forceful delivery does more than enough to draw interest, Homeboy Sandman seems to be sleepwalking (see what I did there? Eh? Eh?) through every bar he spits, which exacerbates the fact that his bars are even harder to decipher than Aesop’s. Besides changing speed, every verse is delivered in a monotone that’s so lazy it sounds like he’d rather be doing anything else. Also not so good is that a few of these beats aren’t mixed well for his vocals, so he’s often drowned out by the louder parts of the beats.
This all made for a mostly disappointing experience when hearing Sandman. But I loved him on Katz, giving funny advice like:
Cats had better not smoke in the igloo
Cats had better not fart when they girl is the big spoon
Cats had better throw some water on that wrinkle
And be neat and wipe the seat if they sprinkle when they tinkle
And both rappers really impressed me on So Strange Here. It’s about life not turning out exactly like they planned but being happy anyway. Aesop loves New York but his career constantly takes him away, and Sandman plays a rapper who achieved popularity but more for his image than his art. Even with Sandman’s story being made up (I think), the theme of appreciating life despite disappointments is very resonant for me because it reflects how I try to view my own life.
What’s best about Lice is the interplay between the two rappers. Many of the five songs are built around each guy trading eight bar verses, ensuring boredom can never set in, and there’s no pointless hooks. While I’m definitely not a fan of Homeboy Sandman after this, I’ve heard enough good that he may grow on me in the future. Aesop smashes, per his usual, and together they made a solid little EP.
- So Strange Here
It didn’t fit into the review, but Aesop smashed Vertigo, check the constantly changing rhyme scheme:
Paranoia voyeur awake in the haunted crawl space
Hoodie up, gaunt face down, taut draw strings
Sprawl over the cookie cut, a mutt of all things
All mange, all dogs of war evolve strange
Nose in the feed trough, curds in his coffee
Tend to his cough and uncontrollable frothing
Spawn of the awful, play the wall softly, hunt alone
Hum his own swan song off-key