It’ll take a few days of listening to Aesop Rock’s The Impossible Kid to fully understand the loads of literary tools locked inside. For help, linked is a pdf of poetic devices to fully break the album down. Like all of his past projects, Ace is a lyrical powerhouse and to create such an album without missing a step shows attention to detail. The Impossible Kid lies akin to J. Cole’s Forest Hills Drive in that it’s one that feels closest to the artist’s heart and is a solo album. This is an album about Ace growing up. The only difference that these two albums have, however, is that The Impossible Kid shows the depth, care, talent, and togetherness that Forest Hills Drive lacked.
If you listen to “Mystery Fish” and then later look at the tweet above, a “what the fuck” might leave your mouth before you play it over once more. The references, wordplay and imagery are expansive to say the least. When a line like “In the warehouse air where his dairy curdles” holds multi-syllabic rhymes which challenge those of Eminem and Andre 3000; it’s evident that Aesop Rock has already established himself as one of the lyrical greats. Ace takes a page from his albums prior to The Impossible Kid like Skelethon and None Shall Pass, mirroring people that inhabit his city to animals of all sorts while also referencing historic greats like Sun Tzu and Xerxes. Old and new Hip-hop heads would be proud, as Ace is able to blow other rapper’s albums out of the water with the amount of poetic devices contained in one track. Ace feels like a writer first and a rapper second. With the old writer euphemism in mind, he doesn’t need to tell other rappers that he’s better than the rest through his lyricism, he shows them.
Fifteen tracks clock in at fourty-eight minutes, and with Blockhead being behind the beats, Ace’s solo album is crafted with the same care as an album that would be conceptual. This means that each track feels connected to each other, the instrumentals tying seamlessly together to execute a story. The Impossible Kid is more than mastered well, it’s aware. The instrumentals illustrate a dark and assertive start from “Mystery Fish” to “Supercell,” but the beats take an interesting step back upon reaching “Blood Sandwich” to “Get Out of the Car.” They leave Ace to dominate the mic before dropping in to accentuate the climax of the tales told within the tracks, and this further shows that this isn’t just natural talent, this is hard work and precision.
While the amount of lyricism is refreshing and captivating by all means, holy shit is it exhausting to listen to The Impossible Kid front to back. There’s something about Ace’s lyricism and tone of voice that’s alluring, making you listen to every little detail. Having so much within every track leaves no space for any cognitive dissonance. To comprehend everything in just one listen through would require the tracks to be slowed down, a Ph.D. in English, and some fucking amazing ears.
Solemn, dark and aggressive, The Impossible Kid is a must-listen and a classic. This isn’t an easy listen and that’s where Ace’s intentions always seem to lie. Like a favorite movie or book, you’re bound to pick something up that you might’ve missed the first, second, or third listen through. That’s not the mark of confusion or muddy, vague execution; that’s the sign of a masterpiece. You’re not going to hear an Ace track getting played in the club, but when you listen to an artist like Aesop Rock you come to the table with the understanding that your brain cells are about to be massaged as opposed to losing them.