After two decades of making music, what do you have left to say? After making so much music, isn’t it time to make room for the next guy? On “Rings“, the first single off Aesop Rock’s new album “The Impossible Kid” coming out April 31st, he proves that he still has a lot to say and the next guy is just going to have to wait his turn. To start off, the beat, which he also made, hails back to his earlier 2000s work with a new age sci-fi sound to it. The keyboards build on each other and create an essence of urgency while record scratches and breakbeat drumming are added to shape this into a real hip-hop track. Like usual with Aesop, he introduces this creative world for his story and uses rap as a vehicle to do so. But this time there feels like there’s something more to it. Between the opening of the music video, the soundscape of the track, and this being the first taste of his new album, this sounds like this is something he has to nail because he has a lot riding on it. This very well may be the case in his mind since it’s his first solo album in since 2012’s “Skelethon”. A lot has changed since then and he has to show that he deserves to be here. Hopefully he isn’t worried about that anymore, because this song proves that almost 2 decades into his career he’s still at the pinnacle of creativity in the hip-hop scene.
Lyrically, he doesn’t miss a beat either. The lyrics discuss creative expression and more importantly how people will exploit your creativity for their own gain or simply dismiss it because they don’t understand it. Lyrics like “Used to draw/Hard to admit that I used to draw” and “They will chop you down just to count your rings” show a personal edge to this, someone who realizes how long they’ve been around and having to step back and ask the question: “Am I still relevant?” It’s a terrifying question that every artist has to come face to face with eventually. This song is Aesop’s answer to this question; a mature, thoughtful, return to form that is as much inspiring as it is comforting. It’s a fighter’s anthem that realizes how scary it is to fight back. So instead of hanging you out to dry, it let’s you into it’s own world where you can be your own character on a mission. Suddenly, your worries become an adventure in your own fantasy world and you realize that if one guy can make come back with something this strong 20 years into a career, whatever you have to do might not be so bad after all.