In this increasingly atomized world of music, how does one get a new record release noticed above the hum of the internet? If you’re Beyoncé, you just drop the whole thing unannounced and watch the media play catch up. If you’re not Beyoncé you might consider rapper Aesop Rock’s tactic.
This week, the wordsmithiest of hip hop artists and animator Rob Shaw released a shot-by-shot remake of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, created with miniatures and made with what looks like spare change as a budget. All of which plays as background video to a full stream of The Impossible Kid, Aesop Rock’s seventh album and his first in four years.
Rob Shaw created the hipster rats skits for Portlandia as well as videos for They Might Be Giants and previous Aesop Rock tracks, but this Shining remake is something else. First you notice the gleeful cheapness of the production, but then as Aesop Rock’s rap lyrics flow over the visuals, memory starts to fill in the gaps of the images. Shaw’s handiwork is literally in the video: we can see his hand in the bathtub scene, or his body’s shadow as he moves the wooden Jack Torrance down the Overlook’s halls. And the tiny camera replicates the film’s Steadicam shots well, creating a work that is like a delirium of the actual movie.
Now, does this have anything to do with The Impossible Kid, really? Well, the rapper did go to live in a Portland barn after divorce and the death of a friend, and instead of writing "All Work and No Play…" over and over wrote this album, and nobody got hurt. Either way, by the time you've finished watching you'll have heard the album, and that's just one way to play the new music game.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.