Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Gonna Eat That?

written by: August 26, 2011
Hail Mary Mallon Release Date: June 7, 2011


Are You Gonna Eat That? feels like a night of getting baked in the basement with friends, and then deciding to make a hip-hop album, which might be the best result of that kind of night. It has all the wit, the camaraderie and competitive spirit that makes basement raps so entertaining. Only it wasn’t made in a basement and the names here are a far cry from inexperienced. On the occasion of their debut, most critics feel safe in calling Hail Mary Mallon a “supergroup.”

In all fairness, “supergroup” is one of those terms thrown around a little too much. Everyone from The Avengers to Ford & Lopatin fall under the label without anyone bothering to question why. The consensus seems to be that if a few notable members from existing bands combine their powers (no matter how abysmal the end result) becomes a musical wonder. Yet in an era of side projects, solo efforts, dropouts and rejoining—it’s not really fair to say. Formerly, true supergroups were mergers of legends, people already renowned and revered in popular culture.

In that sense, Hail Mary Mallon isn’t that—their biggest hero, Aesop Rock, is a niche reference even among rap aficionados, Rob Sonic even deeper and while DJ Big Wiz is a name-brand spinner, well, name five spinners. They actually belong to the burgeoning field of hip-hop duos. It takes one song for Are You Gonna Eat That? to establish its sound and style. “Church Pants” melds dark, uptempo grooving with high-gravity lyricism. In case you were content to let Mallon roll off your ears as playful, stoner rap, the opener begs to differ. The wordplay rarely falls off from that point on, though the album is too often abstract and obscurely referential in a way that can lose listeners.

The lyricism is mind-bending, that is, when you can catch it. It exists for the most part in a distorted blur of unfettered punches—it’s easy to fall several steps behind. It might be forgivable by the pithy rhythm and intensity at which the words hit.

The synth-rock “Smock” touts slow, filtered drums and astounding tradeoff verbiage between Rob Sonic and Aesop Rock. In one of its skits, an anonymous man calls a woman, asking what she’s watching on television—she doesn’t know. It’s just the sort of preachy wake-up call the album is filled with. “Smock” is the bait of a one-two which thrashes home with “The Poconos”—classically aligned in its sampling, metal riff and cymbal sound, the piece is lent a boom-bap feel perfect for the fire spat over it.

The album climaxes toward the early middle, takes a tumble, then fades into unphenomenality. Strangely, the auspicious start of Are You Gonna Eat That? burns out by “Table Talk,” (albeit one of Aesop’s hottest tracks to date) and mellows by the last few tracks.

Hail Mary Mallon seems to have devoured all the consumerism and information overload of the modern age and projectile vomited it all out with Are You Gonna Eat That? Independent rappers should strive to make a gem-laden album. However, the thing taken as a whole is inconsistent, tangential and at times too muddled to be taken as anything more than self-indulgent showmanship.

Hail Mary Mallon Are You Gonna Eat That? Tracklist:

  1. “Church Pants”
  2. “Garfield”
  3. “Grubstake”
  4. “Meter Feeder”
  5. “Smock”
  6. “The Poconos”
  7. “Breakdance Beach”
  8. “Table Talk”
  9. “Mailbox Baseball”
  10. “Holy Driver”
  11. “Knievel”
  12. “Plagues and Bacon”