Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day Turns Night: Aesop Rock's "Daylight" / "Night Light"

Aesop Rock is kind of an odd case.  He's not underground by any means, but not the most well-known to people who don't seek out his interesting brand of alternative hip-hop, which propelled him to the front of the rising tide of the genre back in the early 2000's alongside the likes of Atmosphere and Sage Francis.

It was during this time, September 2001 to be exact, that he released Labor Days, a hip-hop landmark and widely considered his best release.  Aes was a god.  However, unbeknownst to the public, he had a mental breakdown the month before the album's release, drastically changing his outlook on life.

The first clues the general public got that anything was amiss was the anthemic Daylight EP, released February 2002, and it's first two tracks marked a complete shift of style and attitude for the Long Island-born MC.

Leading off with the title track, Daylight, and the major single that propelled the success of Labor Days, the disc starts at the absolute center of the resolute optimism present on the previous album's working-class stories.

Check it out here, with lyrics below the video.



Put one up for shackle-me not clean logic procreation
I did not invent the wheel, I was the crooked spoke adjacent
While the triple-sixers' lassos keep angels roped in the basement
I walk the block with a halo and a stick pokin' your patience.
Y'all catch a 30 second flash visual
Dirty cooperative med platoon, bloom, head-trip split ridiculous
Fathom the splicing of first generation fuck-up with trickle-down anti-hero smack--
Crackin'!
I pace me game for zero hour completion greetin' splash
Duke of early retirement, pick a dream, American nightmare hoggin' the screen
--I'll hold the door open so you can stumble in
If you'd stop followin' me 'round the jungle gym.
Now it's Honor and I spell it with the H I stole from Heritage
Merit crutch stolen wretched refuse of my teaming resonance
I promise: temperance towards breed with a leaning conscious
See, the creed acts sense responsive, but my sports supports the wattage, and I'm sleeping now! (Wow!)
Yeah, the settlers laugh,
You won't be laughing when your covered wagons crash!
You won't be laughing when the buzzards drag your brother's flags into rags!
You won't be laughing when your front lawn is spangled with epitaphs! You won't be laughing!
And I'll hang my boots to rest when I'm impressed
So I triple knot 'em and forgot 'em.
This origami dream is beautiful, but man, those wings'll never leave the ground without a feather and a lottery ticket,
Now settle down.


All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way,
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way. (2x)

--Slacker bounded intimate tabloid headline with a pulse
Shimmy cross the centerfold, and a dead time engulfed, divvy crumbs for the better souls
With seven deadly stains, adhere the blame to crystal conscience,
The result's a low life counting on one hand what he's accomplished.
Ok, link me to activism chain, activate street sweep
Plug deteriorating xenobit Pendragon
I hock swords cores for the morbid spreading of mad men (Alley gospel)
Sinking yer Lincoln-Log cabin and Charlie Chaplin waddle
--I could zig zag and zig 'em again for the badge dream sparkle in my brick wall windows
Another thick installment of one night in Gotham without the wretched "Houston we have a problem
--Attached to the festive batch of city goblins"
Who split holiday freak on a box-cut cinema high road bellow
Head gripped! Watch red bricks turn yellow
Sort of similar to most backbones at camp Icarus
We're all feeling crimes congregating at pamper for bickering
Life's not a bitch! Life is a beautiful woman
You only call her a bitch because she won't let you get that pussy.
Maybe she didn't feel y'all shared any similar interests
Or maybe you're just an asshole who couldn't sweet talk the princess.
Kiss the speaker wire; Peter Pacifism pagan thresh hold
Stomach full of halo kibbles
Wings span cast black upon vigils
Here to duck hunt ticker tape vision and pick apart the pixels
I got a friend of polar nature, and it's all peace
When I seek similar stars but can't sit at the same feast
(Metal Captain) This cat is asking if I've seen his bit of lost passion
I told him yeah, but only when I pedaled past him.


All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way,
All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
put the pieces back together my way. (2x)


This song is powerful, and it's no surprise that it got such a brilliant reception upon its release.  Aes speaks in his own cryptic style about his drive to venture forth and make life his own with resigned hope attached to his sleeve.  Written before his breakdown, it's probably one of his most uplifting tracks.

After his breakdown, he came up with the rest of the songs on the Daylight EP.  The very next track (and the other half of the focus of this article), Night Light, shatters that optimism and speaks clearly, "That's not me anymore."

Watch it here, lyrics below.



Put one up for shackle me not clean logic procreation
I did invent the wheel, in a previous generation.
While the triple sixers' lassos keep angels roped in the basement,
I locate modern halos and pass 'em out to the pavement.
Y'all catch a 30-second flash frame
Dirty cooperative med platoon, bloom, head-trip split fantastic!
Fathom the splicing of major-league low-life with anti-hero earthworm mentality--
--Godzilla!
I pace my game for zero-hour completion
See a cretin's still a cretin, even speakin' altered moniker
American nightmare lost in the monitor
--I'll hold the door open so you can stagger through
Then send berserker bread cookies in after you.
It's Gutter and I spell it with the G I stole from "Get the fuck up"
Noise crutch stolen wretched refuse of my teeming dumb luck
Still I promise: temperance towards breed still bleeding Amish
See, the freaks sucked out the wattage while three bears invade the cottage
And I can't sleep now! Yeah, the police'll laugh,
You won't be laughing when your covered wagons crash!
You won't be laughing when you're hosted by the ghost of Christmas past!
You won't be laughing when your blow-up doll's got a headache and won't give up the ass!
I'ma lay my kicks to rest when I'm impressed,
So I staple-gun 'em to my feet.
This origami dream is beautiful: pull the tail, watch the wings flap,
But you really can't do a thing with that.


All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
Swallow up the pieces, spit 'em at your species
Beached in a city of lost barnacles and leeches
Night Light got me when the Daylight went to evening (Day turns night)
Night (Light) Day (Light) Night Light suckaa!


--I'm pretty sure I got a pulse (pulse)...plus (plus), we Shimmy cross the centerfold, and our night light engulfed
Just let me keep the crumbs
With seven deadly stains, adhere the blame to crystal conscience,
The result's a dead-beat tryin' to make a dollar off a bomb threat.
(Okay) Link me to activism chain, activate wild-style Pluto orbit
Set a course then push the button
I swallow spores born by the laws of a morbid glutton (Alley gospel)
I can spot a duck battalion by the Charlie Chaplin waddle.
(Gone) Zig zag and zig 'em again before the pig can pull a badge out for the lash out
Another thick installment of one night in Gotham like,
"Houston, we have a problem--
They're buffing the trains the same day the graffiti writers bomb 'em!"
Who split holiday freaks on box-cut cinema high road bellow?
Head gripped! Watch red bricks turn yellow!
I'm tryin' to meet the wizard, but a tailgating tin-man holding a oil can
Won't let a hermit crab break in his new shell-toes!
Life's not a bitch,
Life is a bee-otch who keeps the villagers circling the marketplace out searching for the G-spot!
Maybe she didn't feel y'all shared any similar interests.
Or maybe you're just an asshole. And maybe I'm just an asshole.
Kiss the speaker wire ; Sammy Swashbuckler pagan threshhold
Stomach full of diner food
Wingspan cast black upon views
Here to help release the rabbit hounds or pick apart your mood.
I got this friend of polar nature, and it's all peace
--You and I seek similar stars but can't sit at the same feast
(Metal Captain) This cat is asking if I've seen his bit of lost passion
I told him yeah and gave him one last smoke and smashed him.


All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day,
Swallow up the pieces, spit 'em at your species
Beached in a city of lost barnacles and leeches
Night Light got me when the Daylight went to evenin'
Night (Light) Day (Light) Night Light suckaa!


This track is an equally brilliant distorted mirror image of Daylight, as is plain to see.  The parallel structures between the lyrics of the two, intentional and clever, effectively link the two tracks.  There is no question: day turned night for Aesop Rock, and Night Light is an explanation of how things are now.

The interesting thing is that everything about this track is different from its counterpart aside from the lyrical setups.  The music takes on a darker, more pessimistic tone.  Aes now speaks with the cool sarcastic scorn of someone leaning against the corner laughing bitterly under his breath about the world around him. 


 Separately, these songs are both enjoyable, clever, tight, and all-around excellent.  Together, they are a perfect combination, a true exploration of the honest, personal side of life.  Through these two songs, Aesop sheds light on his life in an intensely vulnerable way, standing up and explaining what he'd gone through for the first time to a public that never had a clue.


It's a perfect 1-2 punch, and these tracks are an immaculate example of what music is truly capable of in capable hands.

30 comments:

  1. i remember one of my friends in high school was crazy about aesop rock, i like a lot of his stories but he's not always on play you know

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  2. Never heard anything by this artist before, it's not 2 bad. Thanks for the upload.

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  3. Oh, man, HHR, I totally agree with you. I love about half his discography that I've heard, and don't really dig the other half. None of it's bad, it's just not really appealing to me.

    So, I feel ya. But I love these two tracks with a passion.

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  4. haha yeah, the mornings after are the worst. Aesop rock has some pretty good tracks :)

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  5. I love Aesop Rock unfortunately kinda under-rated. :D

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  6. His Lyrics are godly, very deep and meaningful. I recommend to everyone!

    Thanks for a cool review of 2 related tracks, didnt know about the backstory, and yeah, it's not surprising. Staying positive and strong in our planet is sometimes too hard...

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  7. Good stuff man, I've always liked what I've heard from him.

    suppin n clickin <3

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  8. sick band im gunna have to look into their music

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  9. your blog's getting really nice, keep it up man!

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  10. I don't usually dig music like that, but that was fucking awesome.

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  11. tahts a sick song, thank for showing it to me :P

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  12. loove Aesop ... my old roommates hated him a lot but I've always been an Aesop fan ..

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  13. I should start listening to music more often haha

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  14. Nice post buddy, im gonna send this site to some buddies!
    Supportin

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  15. Very cool music blog!
    Think you might like the Infected mushroom post I have on my blog with lots of guitar riffs :P
    come check mine out some time!

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  16. Good lyrics, interesting music.

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  17. I totally agree with you man ! :)

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  18. I heard about Aesop Rock but never got to hear his stuff. He is sick :D

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  19. Hey 147 it looks like your blog really went towards the uber classy and clean look. In other words, it looks fantastic. Great work and devotion man :)

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  20. I really dig Aesop. His 45 minute Nike track is awesome too! I like his flow.

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  21. Deep music, gives me something to ponder while I'm waiting for sleep to set in.

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  22. Aesop Rock, Very Nice. Great Post. Happy Halloween.

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