Ripping words from music can be as traumatic as mom and dad getting a divorce. Very rarely are lyrics able to stand unaided by their sonic concomitant. Shit, even naked Dylan stinks. So what possessed Aesop Rock to release an EP accompanied by a ninety-page book collecting all the script from his four previous full-lengths? Easy: Pure ego. But where Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives should falter, it flies. First off, the disc itself -- seven new tracks with a terse, blip-jabbed grit that's as funk as it is futurist manifesto -- easily holds it own against Aesop's previous masterpiece, Bazooka Tooth. The final cut, "Food, Clothes, Medicine," even taps into the sub-industrial undertones of Saul Williams's eponymous opus of last year. But it's the book that truly surprises. The rapper's complex internal rhymes and helix-like cadences totally warrant the wood-pulp treatment, and his densely compacted text stares back like fractal poetry from the page. Fast Cars is a kickass listen unto itself, but with its ambitious scope, Aesop Rock (due at the Fox Theatre on Friday, March 4, and Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom on Saturday, March 5) brings hip-hop a few verses closer to brink of literary legitimacy.
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