Directed by Chris White
Directed by Chris White
“I love everybody that came out here tonight. I turned 26….I’m old as a motherfucker. It’s my 26th birthday. Reasonable Doubt era. If I don’t make it this year, I’m a fucking failure.”
AIME didn’t make it that year. The words offered on the occasion of his twenty-sixth birthday carried the fears of every cool kid aging out of the rage addled utopia of youthful indiscretion without a single shred of grace. AIME’s 2016 album The Book of David was supposed to be the last hurrah for a lyricist whose lack of foresight after a raft of drinks kept him from one very critical realization; he was not, in fact, rapping himself out of the game, but instead moving very methodically toward his best work.
Purposeful artistry and careful preparation have led AIME to an unexpected but timely four-track graduation titled Flowers Started Dying Yesterday. Emblematic of a season of change, the follow-up to his 2017 DAVID micro-album is a perfect storm distilled from years of practice behind the boards and in the booth where AIME honed his craft as an MC.
A request for beats led AIME to begin recording in earnest with producer, DJ and collaborator Eric Boss in July of 2018. What began in Boss’ apartment with the creation of opening track “Flowers” would blossom into four songs; each recording is named for one word of a titular phrase that confronts the inevitability of death. More importantly, it is a statement that alludes to the impermanence and constant evolution of all living things –– most notably its authors.
Together, AIME and Boss blend crisp musicianship and decisive language to construct a world as depraved and challenging as it is jubilant, florid and teeming with heavy bass. Flowers Started Dying Yesterday is an intriguing identifier for an equally succinct body of work in which the title, songs and themes are interchangeable mile markers that chronicle AIME’s journey to the most self-contained, confident and complete version of himself.
The spontaneity of their creative process is a refreshing return to sample-based production and the informal sessions where AIME first earned his stripes as an MC across a patchwork of basement studios. As AIME faced the challenge of complete creative control , Eric Boss endured a dark period that found him battling melancholy in order to produce, mix and master the entire project.
An aesthetic risk even for a rapper accustomed to shelling out high-quality conceptual releases, Flowers Started Dying Yesterday is a sharp pivot from the massive arrangements and original scoring of AIME’s established oeuvre. Opening with “Flowers,” the record juxtaposes the tender melodic structure of a love song with the brevity of life as AIME revisits the desire to succeed that connects all of his releases. He and Boss dabble in psychedelics and prove a quick study in Afrobeat with an impressive display of lyrical and rhythmic showmanship on “Started” (Pt. 1 & 2). AIME finds unbridled joy in the frenetic cadences and weaponized adlibs of trap music on “Dying” –– an ode to the excess that opened The Book of David years prior. “Yesterday” leans into the language of reconciliation and finds AIME making an explicit statement of pride in his origins, as an MC and Haitian American. It is a future forward epilogue that trades in aspiration and signals AIME’s formal arrival over a flip of Maxwell Swan’s “If Only.” Flowers Started Dying Yesterday also features guitarist Derek Gertz.
The production, like the cyclical theme of Flowers Started Dying Yesterday, suggests the interconnectedness of all things and a distinct season for each of them. Migrating from the physical value of flowers as signifiers of hard earned glory to their metaphysical value as bittersweet alms best suited for altars to the dead, the album is not a totem to AIME’s untapped potential. It is an outline of his immediate plans to dominate the field of rap rooted in the modern edict, “trust the timing of your life.” Though still a mortal man given to anticipating his flowers while he can smell them, AIME is poised to win with or without them.
“I’ve had my growing pains in life, my growing pains in my creative partnerships and it just came to a point where I was too good to quit or give myself other options. I couldn’t walk away and do something else. In the beginning of The Book of David, I was convinced it would be over for me if I didn’t make it by the age of twenty-five. Eric and I recorded this project on the precipice of our thirtieth birthdays. Right now, age is the last thing for me to be worried about. What I need to be thinking about is the next move. That’s all that matters. Flowers Started Dying Yesterday is my favorite thing that I’ve done to date. This is the most confident and the most well received body of work that I’ve had thus far. All that’s going through my mind is that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. I had to stop thinking about how old I was getting and whether this was the right thing to do at my age. No! This IS the thing to do. I’m entering a different season of my life. My 20s for sure felt like summer. I feel like I’ve become more refined and cultured and mature. The mood is darker. The title Flowers Started Dying Yesterday became symbolic of the changing tide for me as a man and artist and the project is a living record of that.”