Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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"Life's not a bitch, life is a beautiful woman/You only call her a bitch because she won't let you get that pussy." So saith alt-rapper Aesop Rock on the title track of The Daylight EP (Def Jux), a worthy addendum to his 2001 Labor Days. On both records, the 25-year-old New Yorker gets an everyday feel out of dense language and beats catchier than the spare alt-rap norm. EPs often serve as dumping grounds or holding actions, but here the suspect stuff holds its own: rough rap feature for one producer, groove instrumental for another, harrowing ghost track. And the new songs match the best ones on the somewhat uneven Labor Days, most notably the post-9/11 vignette sequence "Nickle Plated Pockets." If you're in the market for a rapper who doesn't live large and wouldn't think of faking it, this is an economical way to check one out.

Ragtime pianist Brun Campbell was past 60 and running his own barber shop in California when he first recorded in the 1940s, which makes the complete works collected on Joplin's Disciple (Delmark) almost ancient history. Campbell did study with the great Scott Joplin, but he was no Marvin Hamlisch. He was loud, crude, rhythmic--a saloon pianist of the old school. He meant to get you going, and he still can.

Playboy, Jan. 2002

Dec. 2001 Feb. 2002