It’s no secret to any of you who read my articles that I’m a huge fan of the Punk Rock-influenced subgenre of Hip-Hop. I was honestly first introduced to this new sonic landscape through Lil Aaron, and he’s still the best one making this kind of music after all the years I’ve been tuning into him. Although it’s hard to classify it as a Hip-Hop subgenre specifically, there is a clear influence from the popular style, but his Punk aesthetic just takes things to an entirely new level that others can sometimes struggle to get to.
After hearing teasers and getting us excited for quite a while about his EP 808 Rock, the project is finally in our grasp and I couldn’t be more excited to listen. The EP includes five songs and boasts a runtime of just over thirteen minutes, but each and every song packs a punch, whether it’s a brand-new song or a previously released single, each track coming together to build a cohesive project that is unlike anything else other artists are making.
Opening up on a high note with “Badside”, the instrumental includes low pitched, gritty guitar chords as insistent percussion and tempo-setting drums slowly get added into the picture. Aaron begins with his classic autotuned Punk style of singing, raising and lowering the pitch of his vocals effortlessly as certain lines contain additional layers to truly emphasize the points he’s making. While these seem to allude to an ultimate drop during the hook, the beat rather simplifies and he subdues all of his mannerisms, giving us an expressionlessly straightforward chorus that fluently drives his message home for an incredible opener to the EP.
The next song is the project’s title track “808 Rock”, and it’s definitely an early standout. Lively guitar riffs and powerful drums set Lil Aaron up to go off the rails in the chorus, allowing him to completely raise his enthusiasm to the maximum and go crazy. His vocals are distorted yet play along with the instrumental seamlessly. Things change up slightly when he goes into the verses and all the elements of the song calm down and become slightly more minimal as he delves into topics that simply come with the Rockstar lifestyle he lives, although the sliding 808s you hear in the background adds so much dexterity to the already busy record.
Resounding, high-pitched synths lead us into some hard Rock guitar in the next song “Dangerous”. During his verses, echoing electric guitar strums provide Aaron with an upbeat rhythm that he stretches his notes out on, raising and lowering the intonation in his voice perfectly yet again, showing off just how talented he clearly is. The penultimate song “Fucked Up” slows things down with some acoustic guitar licks that are paired with pungent drums and unique percussion that provides some differentiation to the EP. On this track, Aaron opens up about the reasons he parties, drinks, and takes drugs, blaming a significant other who left him in the dust and broke his heart, explaining how these are the ways he copes with the unfortunate situation.
Although his incredible vocals are apparent throughout, it’s this record where he truly croons in such a perfect way that shows off the fact that he doesn’t need the autotune to sound great, but it’s rather an effect that pulls all the artistry and emotion from his voice and elevates his lyrics unbelievably. “Vans Untied”, the only single from the project, finishes the EP off on a high note with some incredible vitality through what I believe is a Linkin Park sample, although I’m not one hundred percent sure about that in all honesty. If you somehow haven’t heard this hit quite yet, he boasts some final, culminating vocals full of distortion, layers, autotune, and most importantly an abundance of attitude, leading us out of the project in an impeccable fashion.
I think it’s clear from this article that my admiration for Lil Aaron couldn’t be any higher, and if you don’t understand why just listen to the unique and inimitable sounds he brings to the table on this project. All of these tracks go even harder than probably anything else I’ve heard from him in the past, and every single song captures your attention and keeps you enthralled throughout the entire EP. Selfishly, I already can’t wait for more new music from the Indiana native, but I’m more than excited to go back and relisten to this project constantly for the foreseeable future. Whether you’re working out, trying to pump yourself up for whatever reason, trying to run through a brick wall, or you just want to let loose and rock out, Lil Aaron dropped off thirteen minutes of sheer energy, so this is undoubtedly a project you’re not going to want to miss out on. I have to say, Lil Aaron did his thing once again, unsurprisingly, on 808 Rock, so make sure you don’t miss out on the remarkable new EP from the underground legend.