Aesop Rock’s ultra-dense, symbol-strewn, sesquipedalian raps aren’t for everyone, and even his truest heads may be thankful he takes some space between releases. But the half-decade gap before last summer’s Skelethon was a rough one. It was evidently even rougher for Aes himself, however; he spent it contending with divorce, a close friend’s death and the apparent dissolution of longtime label Def Jux. All of this gets excavated, in typically allusive, semi-absurdist stream-of-(self)-consciousness fashion, atop a truckload of menacingly potent firework drum breaks. All ostensibly mature, mortal concerns get juxtaposed with (and filtered through) a recurrent focus on the smart-alecky melodrama of impish, Calvin-and-Hobbes-style kidhood: dorky haircuts, Roman candles, homemade mummies, godlike donuts, carving “Zoso” into a school desk and a particularly epic account of refusing to eat one’s green beans. The hyperbolic verbosity on display here is unusually semi-scrutable, yielding his simultaneously funniest and most poignant work to date.
Fri., Feb. 8, 8:30 p.m., $17-$19, with Busdriver, Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com.