Prolific rapper and producer Aesop Rock has just announced his first proper solo album in three years, Integrated Tech Solutions (Rhymesayers), is set for a November 10 release. The announcement lands alongside a video for the album’s inadvertent mission statement “Mindful Solutionism,” which charts humanity’s progress from the wheel to modern agriculture before taking a misguided hairpin turn into atomic bombs, cigarettes, and surveillance cameras… or as Aes succinctly sums up “We cannot be trusted with the stuff that we come up with.” Integrated Tech Solutions fronts as a concept album about “lifestyle- and industry-specific applications designed to curate a desired multi-experience,” adopting bouts of ludicrous corporate speak to pry the parasitic business culture away from the parts of life that truly matter. Amid its streamlined psychedelic production style and features ranging from billy woods, Hanni El Khatib, Rob Sonic, Nikki Jean, and Lealani Teano, the album’s 18 tracks sound like the past and future at once. The album artwork is illustrated by renowned artist Justin “Coro” Kaufman, who was also the creative director and illustrator for the “Mindful Solutionism” video as well as the artwork for Aesop’s 2020 album Spirit World Field Guide.
Largely self-produced, Integrated Tech Solutions catches Aesop Rock at his leanest and most innovative, leveraging “Solutionism”’s careening bounce against the wistful “By the River” or the slow creep of “Salt and Pepper Squid.” Always on the search for new sources of creative invigoration, Aesop worked on many of the beats for the album while traveling, traditionally a part of his process that he would only do at home in the studio. The effect of the constantly shifting external stimuli is a record that sounds itself like an organism growing, mutating, and teetering on edge of dystopian abyss. As listeners have come to expect though, Aesop is cuttingly funny and slyly profound at once. “I’ve been doing laps of the lost worlds,” he raps on “All City Nerve Map,” sounding at once wearied and reinvigorated. “I can draw a map to the raw nerve.”
While Integrated Tech Solutions marks his first proper solo full length since 2020’s masterful Spirit World Field Guide, he’s maintained a steady stream of music in the interim, from 2021’s standalone collaboration with renowned artist Jeremy Fish “Long Legged Larry” (available as a song, mobile game, and even a plush toy) to that same year’s full-length collaboration with longtime friend and collaborator Blockhead on Garbology to 2022’s “Catfish” from his long running duo with Homeboy Sandman, LICE. More recently Aesop unveiled a sprawling 10th anniversary edition of his breakthrough album Skelethon, available now.
Photo by Ben Colen