Having already collaborated on three separate projects, including an appearance on each other’s respective solo albums, Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson - together known as The Uncluded - make collaborations between bombastic rappers and soft spoken singer-songwriters look easy. It’s a symbiotic relationship – started by a simple fan email from Aesop to Kimya – that exemplifies just how easy it is for two dynamic personalities to coexist.
Their debut album Hokey Fright (Rhymesayers) is an even embrace where both step out of their comfort zone to help facilitate a balanced yet cheeky dialogue – the ethos of The Uncluded.
In “Delicate Cycle” Aesop, softens up his grizzly, smash-mouth delivery to harmonize over some warm acoustics and playful percussion. It’s notable to hear how he can piggy back a song while still maintaining his morbid sense of humor: [LISTEN]
I can take my finger off, old dog, old trick
New twist like actually take the finger off
Wrap it in a blanket as you would a severed horse head
Mail it to a friend you wanna pinky swear more with
Kimya holds her end of the bargain as well. Her dainty, off kilter sense of humor and unabashed sense of self find a surprisingly welcome home in hip-hop inspired loops and samples. She sounds slightly tentative at times, but lets loose completely on “Tits Up:” [LISTEN]
How can I save you when I can barely save myself?
Codependent No More on my audio bookshelf
Cruise to your town in my cape and my unitar
See what I can do with my lyrics and guitar
Both dabble in the others respective genres. And that’s where the Uncluded find their voice – in this hybrid playland where folk can hold hands with rap and not feel awkward. It’s an empathetic exchange that allows them to be open and honest without sounding like complete basket cases – a discussion involving everything from organ donation [LISTEN] and plane crashes [LISTEN] to sandwiches [LISTEN].
There is an undeniable novelty factor to the Uncluded, but that comes with wanderlust collaborations of this kind. Once past their respective genres it’s easy to see how enthralled they are with one another. They’re not indulging in tourism here, there’s a genuine willingness to build, which only means good things for future Uncluded albums.
In the end longtime fans of Kimya will find something empowering in Aesop’s audacious approach. And longtime fans of Aesop will find something pleasantly warm in Kimya’s fearless embrace – exactly what a collaboration of this sort is supposed to do:
It’s important to give away your pieces
In the detail surrounding your death
There will always be a need for the pieces you are made of
You may one day need a few pieces yourself