San Francisco-based Aesop Rock makes uncompromising, polarizing hip-hop and you either connect to his cerebral verbal intensity or tune it out. His first record in five years explores isolation, emotional healing, and self discovery (“ZZZ Top”). The songs contain enough clever wordplay that he’ll have other MCs scurrying for a dictionary. At times, he’s allusive and elusive and, while the verbiage can be dazzling, it also can be obscure. In “Zero Dark Thirty,”
he offers: “Breakneck pulse over colors in a drain/ that emote sugar skulls in the rain/ flower eyes melting guided by a levy of bath tiles tilting/ quarter up and headed for the kill screen.” The set is shadowed by mortality, and there is an aching desire for clarity. His first solo production, the brooding music on “Skelethon” is often as intoxicating as the stentorian rhymes. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "ZZZ TOP"
Aesop Rock performs at the Paradise Rock Club on Aug. 2.