New-York-born hip-hop artist Aesop Rock is a literal wizard. I’m sure of it. 

Prior to writing The Impossible Kid, Mr. Rock shacked up in a friend’s barn, getting away from the distractions, frustrations, and confusions afforded by day-to-day living in the concrete jungle. He stripped down his approach, and his mind followed suit, resulting in an emotional, self-critical, and reflective ride that is nothing short of inspiring. 

After releasing his first major album, Float, in 2000, Aesop Rock rose to fame on the strength of his complex, twisting lyricism. It’s perhaps too ambitious at times. Many of his songs straight-up do not make sense on first listen. His intellect is on another level, and he pretzels words like an accomplished baker, kneading, folding, twisting, seasoning, rolling, tossing, and then…boom! Finished product. 

That’s tasty. How the hell did he do that? 

All this is on display with The Impossible Kid. His wordsmithing is in peak form, and he continues to draw inspiration internally as much as he does from the external world, creating hard-hitting, emotional tracks that cut deep and that force the listener to consider his/her own quirks and flaws. 

In “Rings,” the first single from the album, Aesop Rock discusses his abandoned career as a visual artist. After jumping ship from visual artistry to hip-hop, Aesop recognizes that he left a part of himself behind — and that eats at him. “Routine day with a dirt-cheap brush//Then a week goes by and it goes untouched//Then two, then three, then a month//And the rest of your life, you beat yourself up.” 

Detailing every memorable line from this album proves impossible. What deserves more mention, however, is the musical production supporting his stories. Aesop’s beats are tighter than ever, and the production quality is mint. 

Whereas before the redeeming quality of his albums manifested in the intricate and mysterious lyricism, The Impossible Kid listens just fine in a casual setting. The grooves are appealing on a surface level, laying the perfect foundation to support his latest lyrical masterpiece. 

The singular flaw I can find with this album is that it trails off a bit toward the end. Tracks 13, 14, and 15 — “Defender,” “Water Tower,” and “Molecules” — are perhaps the album’s three weakest offerings, leaving the listener slightly disappointed after the pure bliss that precedes them. I’ll take 40 minutes of perfection with a nine-minute cooldown any day, though. 

The Impossible Kid hit stores in late April of 2016, and I still come back to it regularly. Someday, I might even fully understand it. 

HIGHLIGHTS: “Mystery Fish,” “Rings,” “Blood Sandwich”

IF YOU LIKE THE IMPOSSIBLE KID, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Brother Ali, Homeboy Sandman, Rob Sonic, literally anybody else signed to Rhymesayers