Aeon Grey: Primate Curriculum

Despite mixed results, this Iowa-based emcee is strong on ideas and concepts.

Aeon Grey

Primate Curriculum

Label: Aplus9
US Release Date: 2006-05-23
UK Release Date: Available as import

The cover of Aeon Grey's Primate Curriculum depicts a monkey sitting with his right arm resting on his right knee. Wild, huh? Well, get this -- both of the monkey's wrists are shackled to a boom box. It's an interesting cultural statement, especially if the "primates" referenced in the album title can be considered symbols of humanity. We've seen the interplay of primates and music before, notably on Me'shell Ndegeocello's album cover for Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape. Known for making bold artistic statements, Ndegeocello arguably turned down the volume of her political acumen on Cookie. By contrast, Aeon Grey cranks it up on his release and, with the exception of one track, the result straddles the line between a concept album promoting human evolution and a rant that laments one social problem after another. The beauty of the album is its commitment to its messages. Grey is quick to point out the problems, whether the problems are intertwined within the educational system ("Violent By"), wrapped up in the political system ("American Dreams"), or merely imbedded within the human psyche ("Nature"). Primate Curriculum is ambitious, experimental, and certainly different from the hip-hop norm. For that, it deserves applause. It appears, however, that the experiments don't always succeed and, for all the problems Grey manages to target, the album is lopsidedly short on solutions. The strength of the release is its production, handled by Acebandage's cymbal-laden "S.O.S." featuring Mike Jupiter, Sabieas ("Makeshift", "Violent By", and "Resident Evil"), and Aeon Grey himself. Aeon Grey's production seems strikingly superior to his mostly staccato flow. Often, the delivery of the content, though intense and sophisticated, fails to match the quality of the music. When it does, Aeon Grey is at his best, as demonstrated by "S.O.S.", "Makeshift", "Nature", "American Dreams", and "Average Joe". However, the most brilliant track, by far, is "Concrete Flower", an ode and homage to a woman of breathtaking inner beauty. Both poetic and disarmingly conversational, this song reminds us primates what we should use our opposable thumbs for.


This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Acid house legends 808 State bring a psychedelic vibe to Berlin producer NHOAH's stunning track "Abstellgleis".

Berlin producer NHOAH's "Abstellgleis" is a lean and slinky song from his album West-Berlin in which he reduced his working instruments down to a modular synthesizer system with a few controllers and a computer. "Abstellgleis" works primarily with circular patterns that establish a trancey mood and gently grow and expand as the piece proceeds. It creates a great deal of movement and energy.

Keep reading... Show less

Beechwood offers up a breezy slice of sweet pop in "Heroin Honey" from the upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod.

At just under two minutes, Beechwood's "Heroin Honey" is a breezy slice of sweet pop that recalls the best moments of the Zombies and Beach Boys, adding elements of garage and light tinges of the psychedelic. The song is one of 10 (11 if you count a bonus CD cut) tracks on the group's upcoming album Songs From the Land of Nod out 26 January via Alive Natural Sound Records.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.