WOWEE ZOWEE (44)
October 31, 2018
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the subject of our favorite albums of the Nineties (1994–2003). A new installment in this series will appear each Wednesday during 2018.
BAZOOKA TOOTH | AESOP ROCK | 2003
Bazooka Tooth was the first of Aesop Rock’s albums that I ran into — it’s in the middle of his discography now, but at the time it felt like I had arrived late, maybe too late. I’d only just arrived in Boston, having thrown aside my ambitions for making a proper living and opened a used bookstore and I was crawling back into the world after a few semi-pleasant years in the timeless cultural void that is Miami Beach. Aesop’s first few albums are full of stories and arcane wordplay, his post-Bazooka Tooth works full of confident rhymes and high quality production, but what continues to charm about Bazooka Tooth is that it has few of these qualities. It’s big and bombastic and uneven, full of noise and murmur, half heard rhymes, overheard exclamations, unexpected exhortations, abrupt silences, incongruous guest appearances; off putting and glorious, uneven and outsized, Bazooka Tooth is as alarming as it is enjoyable. It has the feeling of a magnum opus if a magnum opus can be uncoupled from all your other work, a career statement sans career. Ostensibly it’s about turning your awkward nerdiness and self doubt into power — he imagines embarrassing preteen braces flipped into a superhero called bazooka tooth, but it’s pretty diffuse on that level. More pointedly it’s about growing up and falling out of love with NYC — or, as so often happens, NYC falling out of love with him as the city became simultaneously too nice and touristy and too dangerous and gun filled. It was his last full album before leaving NYC — the palate cleansing EP Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives followed in 2005 — and it is the most NY-centric of his works, and sort of works on this level. Sort of. Except maybe it’s about gun violence, growing old, or shitty rappers? Written in the wake of 9/11, it feels what we all felt — unsettled, casting about for meaning, worried about martians, wondering if we should finally quit smoking, where our youth went, if we have forged a fresh start or are fooling ourselves; can you drown in adulthood?
WOWEE ZOWEE: Stephanie Burt on UNISEX | Anindita Basu Sempere on UNDER THE PINK | Mark Kingwell on DUMMY | Bill Nericcio on AMOR PROHIBIDO | Sherri Wasserman on HIPS AND MAKERS | Mimi Lipson on THANK YOU | John Overholt on BEN FOLDS FIVE | Jordan Ellenberg on GET LOST | Chelsey Johnson on PERSONAL BEST | Marilyn Snell on MAXINQUAYE | Dan Fox on DIFFERENT CLASS | Devin McKinney on IF YOU’RE FEELING SINISTER | Alice Boone on MTV UNPLUGGED (ALICE IN CHAINS) | Rob Wringham on SPICE | Joe Alterio on BEATS, RHYMES AND LIFE | Jason Loeffler on SECOND TOUGHEST IN THE INFANTS | Rick Pinchera on EITHER/OR | Josh Glenn on THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST | Jennifer Krasinski on SUPA DUPA FLY | Sara Ryan on DIG ME OUT | Luc Sante on MEZZANINE | Molly Wright Steenson on I CAN HEAR THE HEART BEATING AS ONE | Franklin Bruno on ENGLAND MADE ME | Michael Campochiaro on IS THIS DESIRE? | Adrienne Crew on CALIFORNICATION | Drew Daniel on I SEE A DARKNESS | Veda Hille on THE SOFT BULLETIN | Vanessa Berry on TEENAGE SNUFF FILM | Tom Kipp on GET SKINTIGHT | David Hirmes on DOPETHRONE | John Hilgart on YORK BLVD. | Deborah Wassertzug on JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT | Adam McGovern on INVINCIBLE SUMMER | Brian Berger on TIRED SOUNDS OF… | Michael Grasso on MUSIC HAS THE RIGHT TO CHILDREN | Jen Collins on HURRAH | Flourish Klink on THE TEACHES OF PEACHES | Judith Zissman on TALLAHASSEE | Lauren Oliver on SOUND-DUST | Jason Cohen on IS THIS IT | Matthew De Abaitua on THE RAINBOW CHILDREN | Jenny Davidson on TIME (THE REVELATOR) | Crystal Durant on LIVE THROUGH THIS | Gordon Dahlquist on GARBAGE | Erin M. Routson on WASHING MACHINE | Carl Wilson on TEMPTING | Jessamyn West on ALL HAIL WEST TEXAS | Kaleb Horton on STREETCORE | Tom Nealon on BAZOOKA TOOTH | Erik Davis on DOPESMOKER | David Levine on FEVER TO TELL | Deb Chachra on MASS ROMANTIC.
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