Are You Gonna Eat That?, Hail Mary Mallon, 2011
I'm a big fan of Aesop Rock and I'm always keeping track of his upcoming projects. He's crazy creative and based on the number of people that I have introduced to his music, the quality of his voice doesn't rub everyone the right way. For those that do like the quality of his voice, they usuallty end up really liking his work a lot. Hail Mary Mallon is a collabo name for Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic and Dj Big Wiz. Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic both MC/produce tracks and they compliment each other extremely well. DJ Big Wiz adds turntable skills into the album's mix of twisted flavors. Both mc's and the dj are white and unfortunately, that will prevent some people from buying this album. I think it's no secret that white mc's face a certain amount of obstacles when it comes to winning black listeners. The way I think about this is that if someone claims to love hip hop won't listen to an artist like Aesop Rock or Rob Sonic because they're white, then they probably aren't the people that would admit why. It's a waste of time, but there are plenty of examples of artists that show how petty it all can be. It often goes unsaid, but how many people want to admit that they're racist?
Aesop Rock is from Long Island, NY and Rob Sonic is from the Bronx, but was born in Washington, DC. Their connection comes through their record label, Def Jux but this album was released under the Rhymesayers record label based in Minneapolis, MN. Both mc's have collaborated several times and have a history of creating collabo albums and it's pretty difficult to find much information on DJ Big Wiz. But when a group of artists are able to create and maintain signature music, their level popularity usually depends on a marketing/promotion budget. One perspective is that the creativity displayed in the work will sell the music and there is nothing wrong with that logic. If you look at the artists on Rhymesayers, I think it's safe to say that their concentration is on the music and not renting a car to make listeners believe they're rich (which really doesn't speak to the quality of the music anyway). There are plenty of examples, but it comes down to a personal choice for how an artist wants to present themselves. I usually gravitate toward artists that focus on the music more than their appearance. Hail Mary Mallon is a perfect example of this.
Are You Gonna Eat That? features an eclectic electric sound that mixes guitars, samples, turntablism, gritty drums and heavy bass. Certain songs, like Grubstake, are reminiscent of the Beastie Boys, but the overall album is an original body of work. Hip hop can take you a lot of different places but you have to be willing to go to the artists world.
The name of the group, Hail Mary Mallon comes from Typhoid Mary (aka Mary Mallon). Mary Mallon is a historic figure known for her spreading the deadly Typhoid Fever before the medical profession knew what was happening. The gist is that she contaminated 53 people and 3 of them died through her cooking. It eventually led to her quarantine and death from complications from this same disease. I believe this is how they conceived the idea of healthy carriers vs. active diseases caused by bacteria. Not an exactly sunny picture, but the name and history could be an elaborate metaphor for the music these three conjure up. I can only imagine all of the different meanings they could give to this name.
A familiar Aesop Rock method to naming tracks is to choose one to three lyrics and you have a title. Many artists use the reoccurring lyrics in the chorus to determine the name. Aesop Rock's indirect approach to naming tracks typically give a decent impression of what the song is about, but other times it is more indirect or abstract. The duo create an interesting mix due to Aesop Rock's abstract approach and the classic flow Rob Sonic play off each other and highlight their strong individual styles. If you are looking for anthems that you really don't need to pay attention to, Are You Gonna Eat That? probably isn't for you. If you want an album that challenges what hip hop can be, then you need to pick up Are You Gonna Eat That?