I had never heard of Kimya Dawson before Aesop Rock decided to collaborate with her on Hokey Fright so when I heard the first single, “Delicate Cycle” I was blown away with how honest to God different it was than any true rap or folk album I had ever heard. Because that is the only real description I can think of for what this album is. Aesop Rock brings his callous, rough rapping voice to Dawson’s delicate, humble folk voice and music to combine into a very ambitious and exceptional album that has not really been attempted before.
The way the songs seem to rise and fall as each one of the two take their turns putting their mark on the song is sometimes hard to listen to simply because making rap and folk flow smoothly is kind of hard. As choppy as it can be though, it never takes away from the project; it’s just a necessary result of brining these two very different genres together.
It can even be argued that folk and rap are the two best genres to be combined. Both are full of story telling and ballad like images and Aesop Rock is most certainly one of the best lyricists in rap today. As the album plays on, the weirdness fades as the album gets into its groove and the switches between Aesop Rock’s raps and Dawson’s crooning becomes almost predictable but not quite.
Lyrically is where this album really shines. Both members of The Uncluded had gone through some tough times before this album and had suffered a loss. The songs take a very therapeutic feel as they discuss how to overcome depression and sadness and how to move on with life. They address their problems out in the open and clearly feel sadness yes, but realize they need to find themselves and find a way out of their ruts in order to move on with life. It is an album of hope and hearing these two successful musicians deal with their “dirty laundry” out in the open is so captivating and motivational.