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Meaning of the song ‘Salt and Pepper Squid’ by ‘Aesop Rock’

Released: 2023

Aesop Rock’s “Salt and Pepper Squid” is an illuminating exploration of the artist’s consciousness, veering between the often-unpleasant realities of life and the surreal escapes often found in his music. In the song, Aesop articulates the hardships he faces and his unique way of handling them with his characteristic wit and gritty realism layered with obscure allusions.

First off, the verses “I could might investigate a exodus / I could find the energy to fetch us / Something dead to skin and beverages / I will not be connecting or checking messages” represent Aesop’s retreating from society. He notes the possibility of leaving (“investigate a exodus”), suggesting he would rather escape and forage (“fetch us / Something dead to skin and beverages”) than connect with people (“will not be connecting or checking messages”).

The recurring “Salt and Pepper Squid” refrain is intriguing. It’s not just about relishing in a dish; it’s Aesop’s vision of success, a metaphor echoing the luxurious and exotic. The rarer, opulent seafood dish is used to symbolize a level of success that he has yet to achieve but continues striving for.

We then delve into Aesop’s dissatisfaction with the mundane truisms of life when he says “Homies get to chauffeur the only rapper with no car”. He is saying that despite his success in the rap game, he still doesn’t own a vehicle and relies on friends for transport, underlining a stark contrast with the cliched rap brag about fast cars. It’s his way of defying stereotypes while conveying his grounded nature.

The verse “Sorry ’bout your friendships, we were done by 11 and ghost” is a clear comment on superficial friendships, reflecting a perhaps cynical, yet realistic view on social relationships where people often leave abruptly after getting what they wanted.

The line “Scrolling credits over dehydrated DNA / 10 pm, PSA, I forgot to eat today” gives us a peek of his chaotic life, caught amidst the quirks of his career and personal dilemmas he sometimes forgets to take care of his basic needs. This line holds an important theme in the song, the artist feeling overwhelmed and neglecting his self-care, which is also echoed in the closing verse “That’s a good idea, dog, I forgot to eat today”.

Throughout “Salt and Pepper Squid,” Aesop Rock’s lyrical genius, teeming with vivid imagery, pointed critiques, and veiled metaphors, guides us through his life’s contrast of occasional glamour and stark reality. Despite the struggles, his defiance and dismissal of societal norms and stereotypical hip-hop themes cements his reputation as one of the genre’s most thought-provoking artists.

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