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Aaron Alexander - "Memento Mori" Stream

Kansas City, Kansas rapper Aaron Alexander has spent the last two years crafting his new album. The result of countless hours writing, recording, and refining is one of the most consequential records to emerge from the metro in years. On "Memento Mori," Alexander has succeeded at crafting his own world through beats and rhymes, a feat that many artists fall short of for their entire careers.

The living, breathing world of "Memento Mori" is as vibrant as the anime that inspired it. In its few joyful moments, the music paints images of lush foliage and gorgeous skylines. In its plentiful moments of gloom, listeners can see thunderstorms and the spiraling, all-consuming darkness that Alexander is emoting. Rather than brushes and pens, the tools used to craft these landscapes are the sleek keys and drums of producers B/Will and Eric Christopher and the jazz instrumentation of KCK ensemble Stranded In The City and a handful of other artists by way of sample or feature.

It's unlikely that Alexander was purposely attempting to craft a sonic version of KCK after dark, but his years spent growing up there and his skill at painting pictures from his life made it happen by default. The profoundly, artfully dark sounds of "Memento Mori" reflect what venturing out in Alexander's hometown sounds like, but perhaps even more so, those sounds capture the thoughts swirling and tumbling through his head.

"Memento Mori" is intensely introspective. On nearly every track, Alexander is coming to grips with the conflicts of coming of age. On "Faces" he struggles with deciding who to devote his trust to. On "Dying Need" he confronts the turmoil spawned by racism in America. The one overarching theme on the album though stems from its namesake. Memento Mori is Latin for "remember you must die." Death appears throughout the album's narrative as an ever-calling figure named Father Time. Fortunately, Alexander has so far missed all of his calls.

The album is a story, often in a loose sense of the term, but its conclusion, "Someday," fits nowhere else but at the end. In-between calm refrains of "We all gotta die someday" Alexander spits inspired bars of his greatest ambitions and his most intense fears. In the record's final, frenzied verse, Alexander lays it all out on the line and does another thing many struggle to do; he accepts the inevitable.

Stream "Memento Mori" below.

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