'Hail Mary Mallon' Will Sit With You For Days

Apr 10, 2017

In the early 1900s, an Irish immigrant named Mary Mallon worked as a personal cook for several wealthy families.

Her tenure also coincided with several outbreaks of typhoid, a bacterial infection that--in its most severe cases--can be fatal. It was eventually determined that Mary was a carrier of the disease and for the next few years she alternated between quarantine and a kind of life on the run as she continued to insist on working as a cook, which inevitably led to more typhoid outbreaks. She would spend the final 23 years of her life in quarantine.

The life of Mary Mallon--known more infamously as Typhoid Mary--is tragic, and it also serves as a complex metaphor for hip hop artists Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic. They've released two albums as the group Hail Mary Mallon, and in each the tropes of immigration, alienation and disease are explored through the kind of complicated and highly structured rhymes each emcee is known for.

The pair don't make easy music. The rhymes are layered in a way that makes the term "multivalent" seem flimsy, and the music is aggressive and grinding. But the result is a work of art that will sit with you for days after hearing it.

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