Aesop Rock And Kimya Dawson Showcase Their Strengths | St. Louis Public Radio

Aesop Rock And Kimya Dawson Showcase Their Strengths

May 20, 2013
Originally published on May 20, 2013 8:16 pm

Kimya Dawson and Aesop Rock both grew up in the New York suburbs and reside in the Pacific Northwest, but they only met after Aesop sent Dawson a fan letter; they eventually evolved into a duo they call The Uncluded. Aesop Rock is a brainy alt-rapper, Kimya Dawson is a playful folk-punk, and both are headlong word-slingers. The difference is that Dawson overflows where Aesop overthinks.

I've loved Kimya Dawson's tiny voice and confessional candor since she surfaced with The Moldy Peaches in 2001. But her strophic stanzas and childlike tunes get repetitive enough that you could grump about her self-parody if you wanted. For me, that's more Aesop Rock's problem; he's so committed to his own IQ that he refuses to be humorous, clear or nice. As The Uncluded, however, the two cancel each other's weaknesses — Dawson gains heft, Aesop lightens up, and both let their creativity reign.

Dawson, 40, has always written a lot about childhood, including her own. Aesop, 36, often recalls how he came up, as well. In "Jambi Cafe," a young Kimya face-plants at a skating rink and Aesop comforts her with candy.

For all their gifts with words, their Hokey Fright album wouldn't mean much if it wasn't enticing as music: Aesop Rock's beats anchoring Kimya Dawson's catchy ditties, each comping vocally under the other's parts. Even better, however, is when The Uncluded join together in song. It's almost like they're two halves of a whole — which they are, a rare and welcome thing.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now a duo formed by musicians who hail from two very different genres. Kimya Dawson is a folk singer with a distinctive voice. Aesop Rock is an indie rapper with distinctive wordplay. Both artists have small but devoted fan bases, and the two have come together to form The Uncluded.

Music critic Robert Christgau has this review of their new album, "Hokey Fright."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELEPROMPTERS")

ROBERT CHRISTGAU, BYLINE: Aesop Rock is a brainy alt-rapper, Kimya Dawson, a playful folk-punk, but both are headlong word-slingers. The difference is that Dawson overflows where Aesop overthinks. Hear how lucidly Dawson explains her volubility in a song on the Uncluded's "Hokey Fright" called "Teleprompters."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELEPROMPTERS")

CHRISTGAU: Now, hear how Aesop takes Dawson's explanation to a denser, more metaphoric place.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TELEPROMPTERS")

CHRISTGAU: I've loved Kimya Dawson's tiny voice and confessional candor since she surfaced with The Moldy Peaches in 2001. But her strophic stanzas and childlike tunes get repetitive enough that you could grump about her self-parody if you wanted. For me, that's more Aesop Rock's problem. He's so committed to his own IQ that he refuses to be humorous, clear or nice. As The Uncluded, however, the two cancel each other's weaknesses - Dawson gains heft, Aesop lightens up, and both let their freak flags fly. For instance, here's a first, a song about organ donation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ORGANS")

CHRISTGAU: Word-slingers, though, both artists are, the "Hokey Fright" album wouldn't mean much if it wasn't enticing as music: Aesop Rock's beats anchoring Kimya Dawson's catchy ditties, each comping vocally under the other's parts. Sometimes The Uncluded even join together in song. It's almost like they're two halves of a whole, a rare and welcome thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DELICATE CYCLE")

BLOCK: The album from The Uncluded is "Hokey Fright." Our reviewer is Robert Christgau.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DELICATE CYCLE")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.