The Uncluded – Hokey Fright album review

One of the most prominent, and well- known underground rappers of the last 10 years, Aesop Rock, has teamed up with Grammy Award- winning folk singer, Kimya Dawson, to form the group, The Uncluded. The term, uncluded, was first coined by San Francisco artist, Michael Bernard Loggins, meaning “keeping things you don’t appreciate out of your life.” Aesop initially reached out to Dawson via email as a fan of her music. The duo would later collaborate on an art- inspired blog, 900bats. From there, their working relationship birthed featured songs on each other’s solo albums, and ultimately transformed into The Uncluded, with their debut album, Hokey Fright, released in May of 2013 under the Rhymesayers’ Label.

Like most debut albums, Hokey Fright struggles at times to claim an identity. However, their identity can be an extremely ambiguous topic considering their completely different backgrounds. Aesop, known for his unique voice and intellectual wordplay, has been delivering excellent rap productions for a select group of alternative underground rap fans, closely associated with the likes of Atmosphere and Living Legends. Meanwhile Kimya Dawson, has released a critically acclaimed children’s folk album, ALPHABUTT, but got her big break when her music was featured in the breakout movie, Juno. The duo’s different backgrounds is, of course, the major catalyst for the album, as evident on the second track, “Delicate Cycle”, which is unquestionably Hokey Fright’s best track. “Delicate Cycle” starts off with Aesop coming in strong with an urbane rhyme, over a soothing guitar strum, presumably by Kimya, who delivers a folk-inspired rap towards the latter half of the song. Although a significant portion of the album follows this gaffe- proof formula, it is when the duo deviates from that recipe where Hokey Fright runs into a few problems. One must remind themselves when listening to Hokey Fright, there just are not many, if any, folk/ rap groups out there, making this album by definition, experimental. The Uncluded used this album as a springboard for creative material, however, with that musical leap, comes head-scratching tracks such as, “Superheroes” , “WYHUOM”, and their attempt at more traditional hip hop track, “Tits Up”.

The Uncluded will be spending all of their summer touring the United States, and hip hop fans should feel privileged, as listeners, to hear this combination of sound at a live venue. Another resulting component will be the duo continuing to contract chemistry and grow as a group, as one would hope further collaborations are in store. Hokey Fright is a great debut showing for The Uncluded, and will be interesting to see if other alternative rappers will seek to mimic this combination on a larger scale, such as an album in the vein of Hokey Fright. One thing’s for sure, Rhymesavers, already considered one of the most critically acclaimed underground rap labels, has another artful showpiece to add to its stellar catalogue.

Aesop Rock Press Releases Videos

The Uncluded (Aesop Rock & Kimya Dawson) Debut Album Hokey Fright To Be Released on May 7th Duo Releases New Viral Music Video for “Scissorhands”

The Uncluded, featuring rapper Aesop Rock and folk singer/songwriter Kimya Dawson are releasing their debut album Hokey Fright May 7th on Rhymesayers. The band recently made a viral video for the album track “Scissorhands.” To watch the video, click the link below:

When the pair collaborated on both Aesop’s Skelethon (Rhymesayers) and Kimya’s Thunder Thighs (Great Crap Factory), the two decided that they wanted to continue making music with each other as a group. The band name, which means to keep the things you don’t appreciate out of your life, is based on an excerpt from Michael Bernard Loggins’ book Imaginationally. This record helps to tell the story of two people who are finding therapy through making art together.

Hokey Fright’s 16 tracks were written, performed and recorded entirely by Aesop and Kimya, except for a guest drum appearance by James McNew of Yo La Tengo on “Delicate Cycle”. The album artwork was also done by illustrator/artist Travis Millard. While the record retains Aesop’s signature dense wordplay and Kimya’s soft spoken and innocent lyrics, the album has a dark feel, as the record was recorded in the wake of recent personal losses. While it may seem like an unusual pair, each artists’ best qualities shine through making an enjoyable listen for fans of both.

Kimya Dawson is a Grammy winning, platinum selling singer songwriter most widely known for her work on the JUNO soundtrack and her former band, The Moldy Peaches. She has released 7 solo albums, including a children’s album “Alphabutt”.

Aesop Rock (aka Ian Bavitz) is a critically acclaimed hip hop artist/producer, recognized for his dense and abstract word play. He has released six solo albums, three EPs, and a 45-minute piece of music designed for runners, commissioned by Nike. Lyrics have been published in the New York Times Best Seller Hip Hop Speaks to Children, as well as Yale University’s Anthology of Rap (Nov. 2010). Aesop is also co-founder of, a creative resource of arts, information, and oddities