by Big Flowers and Dan O
Dan O-Listening today, I felt like this album was a party where the person throwing it got depressed and angry and locked himself away for the last portion of it. The last two songs (Remorseless, Smith + Cross) are so dejected, frustrated at the world. It’s a party with all the people you want to listen to cohabitating: Breeze Brewin rapping with El-P, Boldly James and Gabe Nandez. It should be glorious but woods has a giant heart the world broke and keeps breaking.
Big Flowers-While a lot of this album has its ominous overtones, virulent spaciousness and fearless abhorrence to the state of the world, woods does not seem defeated. Through the mire and muck of growing, creating and maintaining in America, more specifically New York City, there are salvation-esque moments of perseverance. With lines like “nothing ever happens till it do!” it comes as no surprise that the factorial emcee is philosophizing in advocacy of manifestation, action and the continuation of both craft and curing oneself among the sickness modern.
Dan O-Aethiopes sometimes feels like a dialectic within itself. Somehow we learn so much about woods as a person while getting to experience a dizzying array of talented voices outside of our narrator. Somehow it is his most accessible work with classic hip hop songs like Heavy Water living next to complete showstopping experimentation in Haarlem. It’s compassionate, emotional and tender while being mean and grizzled. The dialectic creates new meanings for me on each listen. Do you think this album can expand listenership beyond the Backwoodz faithful in a meaningful way? I get the feeling those who don’t listen to woods look at him like my mother looks at abstract art. This album can’t be dismissed under that criteria.
Big Flowers-If woods is abstract, I’d make the argument that we all exhibit that same abstraction. Not often do you find an artist so far along his own path yet still so representative of the collective axe to grind. What woods offers in his penchant for paraphrasing a resemblant life is a morsel among the madness for any given listener to relate to. By that notion however, most do reject the abstract. Though I’d argue woods and Preservation have constructed something contemporary without diverging too far from the center of the spectrum, abstraction still pins itself to them. However true a motherly glance at something apparently nonsensical may be, the album opens up with the very sentiment of hearing his mother breaking dishes…high tension, and that is so realist that it’s palpable. This album is palpable, tactile and interactive, as abstract as it may be within those yields.
Dan O-You are so very right about that point. This is an album not just rooted in ideas but the people connected to them. Lots of people are discussing “Spare me the Hallmark Karl Marx,” line from Remorseless but the line after it is what sticks with me, “I was in the Dollar Tree break room playin’ cards with quarters.” Every inch of this album is about the economic function of living: from paying the connect to paying the rent to the Dollar Tree. I appreciate that woods always gives us his idea as a thesis and then paints the full picture so we understand how it emotionally grounds itself in reality. How it transpired and how it impacted.
Big Flowers-I’d only interject to mention that it usually seems that the emotional effervescence is not always the intention. Yes, there are these brimming, explosive moments of emotion but they seem like exhaust as by-product of chasing the philosophy of life through a microcosmic, iconocentric lens. Everything is an emblem for something, collectively iconic or personally attached. This leaves emotion in a pool of utility, and though it’s necessary for the intellectual sides of rap and poetry to stain the same way, woods has a way of functionally representing emotion throughout Aethiopes, giving handles and puzzle piece geometry to how he feels about the way things have been impacted to seamlessly build the gestalt of living in these times.
If you don’t have Aethiopes, jump all the way in: