Thursday, March 01, 2007

Indie Hip-Hop Workout Plan

All Day: Nike + Original Run

Aesop Rock, personal trainer? Believe it. That’s the unlikely scenario proffered by All Day: Nike + Original Run, a 45-minute continuous track produced by the indie-rap enigma Aesop Rock, designed specifically for runners to trance out to on the road or treadmill.

Obviously, the only way to really surmise the album’s effectiveness is to put it to the test. And so I drag my sorry ass to Bally’s Total Fitness in Hollywood — the perpetually overpopulated gym that feels more like a sweaty mall for a colorful cross section of underclothed Angelenos. When I finally elbow my way onto an elliptical machine, I cue up the disc and start running (ellipticizing?).

The sound of someone running on gravel — much faster than me — pans left to right in the headphones over trippy, backward intonations reminiscent of Madlib. Aesop Rock’s inimitable drawl loops into a hypnotic mantra. An insistent, thudding beat propels me to pick up the pace. About eight minutes in, a funky organ kick-starts under a flurry of turntable scratches. Ooh, a grimy rock guitar line. Very Iron Butterfly. Okay, I’m sweating now. The mix is flowing effortlessly, evolving from a Funkadelic acid groove to a spacy electro-jam. A glistening, heavily tattooed Suicide Girl wannabe saddles up in front of me. I wonder what she’s listening to. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah — sweating like Bobby Brown to Aesop Rock. Who knew? At this rate, the indie-rap set will definitely be ready for the beach this summer. Thanks, dude.

(Originally published in the LA Weekly, 3/07)