Album Spotlight: “Bestiary” – Hail Mary Mallon
Back in 2011 I was sitting at my desk when I got a “Google Alert” on my computer that Aesop Rock had a new album picked up for release on RhymeSayers, it was all I could do to keep the Safeway brand knockoff honey smacks from spilling out of my mouth as I rose from my seat and yelled in exaltation. Upon further research I discovered that it wasn’t solely an Aesop Rock album, but a new group by the name of Hail Mary Mallon, consisting of Definitive Jux heavy hitters DJ Big Wiz and Rob Sonic as well. Later that year they would release their first album “Are You Gonna Eat That?”, which received a fair amount of buzz in the underground hip hop world, partly due to the clever video single “Smock” that garnered some deserved buzz in the blogosphere.
DISCLAIMER: Before we go any further I need to disclose something to the reader, the reason for my earlier level of excitement stems from something I’ve been dealing with since hearing “Daylight” creep out of my friend Cole’s shitty computer speakers while we played Age of Empires our freshman year of high school, I fucking love Aesop Rock. From that moment forward, just as my little sisters bought any product made by Lisa Frank and listened to every Avril Lavigne song, my ears absorbed every Aesop album my hands could find and my busboy salary could afford. That was 10 years ago, for my sisters Avril and Lisa are distant memories, and although my musical tastes have been far from stationary, Aesop has remained a constant fixture at the top of my sonic pyramid.. On November 11th, Hail Mary Mallon dropped “Bestiary”, their second full length studio album, reaffirming Aesop’s spot at the top of my list, and making a case for him and Hail Mary Mallon to have a place in yours as well.
First off, Hail Mary Mallon is an eerie group. if their name didn’t clue you in already(an homage to Typhoid Mary) then the creepily fantastic array of “Taxidermied outlandish beasts” on the cover will set the proper tone of the album for you, shits about to get weird. The album isn’t a concept album in the sense that it tells a cohesive story a-la The Who’s “Tommy” or more recently Kendrick Lamar’s “GKMC”, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t create a cohesive experience from start to finish. For me the album feels like a magical journey through modern american culture, back-dropped by Dj Big Wiz’s sticky, bass heavy beats and narrated by the poignant yet subversive lyrics of Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic. Picture the magical carpet ride in Aladdin, except the carpets dirty, the city scape is smoke and industry, and instead of a pretty indian princess, your companions are bearded aging hip hop artists with a “taketh no shit giveth no fucks” mantra.
I wont bore you with an extensive rendition of that I think they mean with every line of lyrics or how track 8 is “like so totally a perfect allegory for modern day marxism”, but instead heres a few highlights from my journey through the album that will hopefully convince you to embark on one of your own.
Gun-to-my-head-you-have-to-decide this would be my favorite track on the album. It showcases DJ Big Wiz’s talent for creating ethereal atmospheres with his beats, without getting too hectic like some of the other tracks on the album. Rob sonic starts the track off with his signature raspy “I’m not even trying right now” flow, lofting a pitch across the bridge that Aesop knocks out of the park with one of my favorite verses on the album, showcasing his uncanny ability to convey a unnamed yet familiar feeling penned with his signature beautifully weird vocabulary.
“Side winders wind through fried wires/
In a room of hired primates climbing on typewriters/
Trying desperately to organize an alphabet and prose/
That would render them in drastically exaggerated roles/
I know I Shouldn’t care and I’m too old to play the dozens/
But admittedly I visualize some ultimate comeuppance with/
Heads on pikes and pikes on walls and hell bound knights who deny all involvement,
If you find yourself wondering why Rob Sonic and Aesop Rock seemingly fit so well together look no further than this track. Even before they started rapping together their albums always had a track or two that came across almost like a stand up act. These two always find time to be comedians and this album is no exception. “Whales” is an homage to the modern ballers, accompanied by a hilarious video that premiered on Funny or Die, the very not wealthy Aesop and Rob rap about what they would do with their billions from their luxury alleyway accommodations. A few lyrical highlights include;
Aesop – “Money on my motherfucking mind
Cop five haircuts at the same time
White gold pants, jet ski made of wine
Foie gras bust of Albert Einstein
Rob – “A castle full of cars and the yard full of yachts
A leopard with a mink
And an arm full of clocks
All hand wound everyday by a Spock”
This is just a small taste of what “Bestiary” has to offer, with its funny sketches, cleverly placed voice cameos, and unique style this is a musical journey that everyone should take, hip hop fan or not, and I’m not about to spoil all the surprises that you’ll encounter along the way. Cop the album here, listen for free here. If you’re one who likes the Pirate route and are going to torrent it make sure to buy a T-shirt when you have the money or see them when they come to town. Support when you can, steal only when you cant.
if after the journey you want to discuss your own feelings on the album, or tell me how much you disagree with my views, feel free to send questions and personal attacks to firstname.lastname@example.org