It feels sorta reflective in the sense of going through some childhood memories, some family stuff, some friend stuff, some music stuff, some moments of being baffled by the youth of today, and just coping with getting older.
aesop rock tour 2020 – Mailbu Ken Is Aesop Rock & Tobacco
A dope underground hip hop artist. Unlike that dusty can of coffee grounds sitting in your pantry, the rapper Aesop Rock has only gotten better with age. Though his apocalyptic and often impenetrable lyrics once cemented him as a stalwart of the mighty New York hip-hop label Definitive (née Def) Jux, as time has passed the MC has opened his songwriting up and distinguished himself as a raconteur and commentator par excellence. He is perhaps the only MC capable of dropping tracks about haircuts , therapy , and his relationship with his cat that drip with the same wit, energy, and urgency of his lyrical exercises His seventh album, The Impossible Kid, may very well be his finest. He tours constantly and gets coffee and green juice at Whole Foods every chance he gets.
Yet, when Aesop succeeds, Malibu Ken is a color-blasted, surrealist listen that tends to the ear and tickles the brain. There are no outright duds, only moments where it’s clear that Aesop Rock has already given us everything. After 22 years of rapping, there is little left to deliver.
Purple Moss,” the last song on the project, shows Aesop Rock’s desire to escape to a far off place from the world that makes him feel off-centered. He ends each of his three verses wanting to stare at stars, watch weird, non-judgemental individuals and dream of a chair in a yard while on an Empire Builder, which is actually an Amtrak train that goes cross-country.
At the same time, this is the most purely Aesop Rock record of his career. Like Skelethon, Aesop exercised complete creative control over the whole thing, from the production (which he handled himself, with instrumental help from Philly’s Grimace Foundation) to conceptualizing the cover art by his friend Alex Pardee.
In February 2010, El-P announced that the label would be put “on hiatus,” aside from selling its catalog and merchandise. During this time Bavitz was absent in terms of making any new albums or EPs, albeit being featured on other artist records and producing.
You could see that as stubborn defiance, the old man fighting against tides of change. But on The Impossible Kid, such moves mostly come across as a musician aware of what he likes and working to update it for his current circumstancesa forty-year-old, long-rapping, new cat owner, equally mesmerized and perplexed by the world’s possibilities and problems. Aesop Rock seems to understand it’s impossible to become a kid again, even if youth is more fashionable than legacy.
Aesop Rock, a 22-year hip-hop veteran, holds the largest vocabulary in the genre’s history. His music is synonymous with abstract lyricism, complex wordplay, fascinating flows and immersive storytelling. Aesop Rock’s music takes time to digest, and taking many attentive listens to each track is necessary for maximum enjoyment.
Rap’s supposed to be a young man’s game, but Aesop’s only been improving as he’s gotten closer to middle age. He’s tackling different subject matter, going deep on topics like depression, his sometimes rocky relationships with his family, and the turbulent handful of years that culminated in Aesop leaving his adopted home of San Francisco to live in a barn out in the woods, where he recorded the foundations of The Impossible Kid.
As you might have guessed, The Impossible Kid is a reference to Aesop himself, a person who’s spent his life doing things that seemed unthinkable before he just went and did them, blazing a visionary trail all his own. Two decades in, he’s still out there pushing it forward.
This clarity was most apparent on his last solo album, The Impossible Kid , for which he earned substantial critical praise, but it was present, although inchoate, on Skelethon as well, where he rapped about mummifying a cat , Bob’s Donuts in San Francisco , and refusing to eat vegetables when he was young The Tom ‘Bedlam character from King Lear comes to mind; Edgar masquerading as a deranged vagrant in order to cover his true identity from those that may hurt him. The last decade has seen Aesop Rock slowly emerge from a protective shell of obfuscation, still a bit mad, but more accessible than ever.
I mean, Portland feels pretty creative to me, but I know what you mean. People go to those places to be surrounded by that vibe. People come to places like this to get away from it. I have identified with both of those things—the need to be up in the mix, and the need to get the hell out of the mix. I can see wavering between those two feelings forever, and just jumping ship when I need a change.
Aesop Rock: I am in a hotel in St. Louis. On tour we go to Whole Foods every day upon waking, but oftentimes arrive too late for their actual breakfast, which saddens me. I had a coffee and a green vegetable juice, and then I ate some tortellini salad–a fairly lunch-y breakfast. The only silver lining to the days we need to be up way early is that Whole Foods is still serving eggs and such.
The real-life Ian Bavitz is touring with Bronx-bred rap virtuoso Rob Sonic, his longtime collaborator in the group Hail Mary Mallon. We caught up with Rock by phone ahead of his show Wednesday at First Avenue.
I think I learned very quickly after I started putting out music … you just learn that people are going to take what they want and make it fit their agenda or make it fit their interpretation. And you make peace with that or you suffer forever. Laughs. It’s inevitable. The other thing that I’ve noticed, in regards to the new record, people have told me… I think some of the heavy-handed cryptic-ness that I’ve used as maybe a crutch in the past is sort of less prevalent this time around.
Much like Sage Francis’ ‘Copper Gone’, this is not an album about mental health; instead it utilises the writer’s personal experience of social vulnerability to illustrate the pitfalls of a society that cannot sympathise with symptoms that are not universally experienced. Much of ‘The Impossible Kid’ was written when Aesop retreated to the barn referenced in ‘Rabies’ and ‘Supercell’ in an effort to escape his fraught family relationships in San Francisco and allow him to collect his thoughts and bind his scars before reaching 40. This corporeal distancing and rediscovery of the joy of painting (the core subject of the barnstorming ‘Rings’) has relaxed his writing style, allowing him to invite the humour back into his solo work that he denied ‘Skelethon’ but displayed in spades on The Uncluded’s ‘Hokey Fright’ and Hail Mary Mallon’s two albums. Will there be a better couplet this year than I lost the plot but not the passion for the novel”? It probably depends on the release date of ‘RTJ3′.
There’s really no better way to describe Aesop Rock than this: He’s an outlier. Fiercely committed to his own brand of art, his wordy, sometimes impenetrable lyrics have alienated many a potential fan. When I first listened to his latest release, The Impossible Kid,” I pulled up the lyrics online and read along with the raps, even then pausing occasionally to decipher a particularly pithy line. To the unprepared or impatient listener, these songs might sound like a foreign language. But if you have the inclination to sit down and spend some quality time with The Impossible Kid,” you’ll hear this record for what it is: the product of years of nose-to-the grindstone work and hard-won life experience, written and delivered by an artist whose talent rivals any of the more famed rappers on Daniels’ extensive chart.
I think the most valid criticism of Aes is that his natural rhythm doesn’t always fit with the music hes rapping over. Skelethon feels like the most seamless mesh between his lyrics and music. It just fits right.
I am not that connected to the scene these days. But even in the days when I was a part of something that felt kinda plugged-in to the scene, I wasn’t that comfortable. I almost find the scene to be a distraction from the actual work. I would love to still find more ways to unplug from the scene—which gets tough when you sort of have a career to maintain. I would love for my existence as an artist to be completely about my art—not about my social media, or what I do vs what’s cool right now, or even whether or not I sound okay in an interview. I just wanna put my work out there, maybe explain it if I feel like it, and that’s it. But as for my own music—I feel more connected than ever, more in tune with who I am and what I bring to the table, and more understanding of my own capabilities.
On The Impossible Kid, the seventh and arguably best album of his two-decade career, the rapper with the long-weaponized voice and enviably expansive vocabulary confronts his advancing age at almost every turn. He wastes little time broaching the topic, too, turning the chorus of the second song, “Rings,” into a mantra for his own inevitable obsolescence.
He would return to his solo career in 2012 with Skelethon , released by the Rhymesayers label. The album featured a guest appearance from Dawson along with Rob Sonic and Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts After his gear was stolen in 2013, Rock sold artwork to help fund a new studio setup. A tour with the Uncluded preceded 2015’s LICE, the first of a trio of collaborative EPs with Homeboy Sandman A year later he returned to his solo career with the single “Rings” and the album The Impossible Kid The following year he scored his first film, the action thriller Bushwick In 2018, he formed Malibu Ken with Black Moth Super Rainbow mastermind Tobacco , whose debut solo album Aesop had guested on a decade prior. The duo’s self-titled album arrived in early 2019.
Labor Days was followed by Bazooka Tooth in 2003. For the first time, production was mostly handled by Rock himself, with three tracks from longtime collaborator Blockhead and one from close friend and Definitive Jux label CEO El-P. Guest appearances include Party Fun Action Committee , El-P, and Mr. Lif (all Definitive Jux labelmates) and Camp Lo With this release Aesop hit a higher level of recognition, releasing “No Jumper Cables” as a single and music video, then another single, “Freeze”, shortly after. A remix of “No Jumper Cables” was featured on Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 , furthering Aesop’s recognition. In 2004, he released Build Your Own Bazooka Tooth and created a contest in which you had to create a remix of an Aesop Rock song using the cappellas and instrumentals.
This time around, releasing his first solo album on the Rhymesayers imprint (since El-P’s Def Jux was shuttered two years ago), he’s provided not only the main course, but also the platter, providing both beats and raps for each of Skelethon‘s 15 clanging, loud tracks. His beats — which we got a good feel for on Slug and MURS’ third Felt album in 2010 — add just another dimension to a style that’s most accurately described as unique”, in a genre that’s defined by its general lack of uniqueness.
OKP- None Shall Pass seems almost like your redemption record by comparison. It’s starts with a voice chanting I am alive” and there’s a lot of really good story telling. There’s much more production consistency too. It’s got this obvious rock influence that’s even funky at times. It’s layered and really organic compared to some of your noisier machine-like beats. Every track on this album is mad cinematic, they all really paint a visual.
Here Aesop Rock feels alone in his rabbit hole” as he watches others, the bunnies”, plunge into chaos while he views things from the outside. He could be talking about other rappers, as he talks about coming for their cabbage” as he maintains relevancy throughout his long music career, twenty paw-pads full of scabs.” He doesn’t feel threatened by the bunnies” who get all the fame but nonetheless, jump into traffic” while he goes undervalued but remembered.
AR- Ya, grinding, grinding. He just reminded me of how I was slacking constantly (laughter) and why I wasn’t out trying to get a buzz going. So I was definitely influenced by him. And I have heard two of the songs he did with Madlib and they’re fucking dope.
AR- It’s more just for that certain type of person that wants to take on the personification of a pig. It came about when I was waiting to do my collabo song with El (Gun for the Whole Family”), the last song for the record. But he was crazy busy with his album then jumped straight into promo mode. I was kinda sitting there for an extra week or two waiting for him but I had this idea for a song for a long time so while I was waiting it popped back into my head. I played a rough demo of me over some bluesy street shit to my girl and a few friends and they were into it. Then I only had like two days to finish it before my deadline so I had it in my head that it would be like a bonus track because it was an after thought to making the rest of the record. I asked my wife to replay the riff I had sampled, like a guy begging for change sound. We threw it together and it ended up being one of my favorite songs on the record, if not my favorite.
There will always be a subset of Aesop Rock’s cult following that prefers his earlier music on Def Jux when he was working almost exclusively with Blockhead. Personally, though, I’ve found everything he’s released since his move to Rhymesayers to be way more compelling. Late-career Aesop Rock has allowed himself to become more human on the mic, injecting humor, confession, and, most importantly, specificity into his projects. With how unbelievably dense and cryptic he can be, the salience of a subject in his more recent endeavors has, if not blown them open, left the doors to understanding his lyrics slightly ajar. Even though you may not catch every, or many, of his tangled references, knowing that at the core of this Gordian knot lies a discernable idea, experience, or object tethers you to the whirlwind.
The less straightforward, less narrative tracks on Malibu Ken” offer a world of lyrical content to explore. However, Aesop Rock can craft a verse with a flow as rhythmically satisfying as any hook in hip-hop, making the listening experience without lyrical focus still highly enjoyable.
AR- (laughter) That’s kinda true but I’m thankful for everyone and not to sound corny but, I never thought I could make music for a living and I wake up literally every day thinking that this could all just be gone. It’s become really superficial and easy to get the rug pulled out from under you in this industry. So every fan I get is shocking. I welcome everybody.
Bavitz’s latest release, None Shall Pass Definitive Jux, is the first recorded in his new studio digs, but it doesn’t lack the fidelity of his past albums—all recorded in decidedly more posh surroundings.
And? And Aesop Rock uses by far the widest range of words among the 85 rappers tested, much wider than Shakespeare’s would have been in a comparable analysis of his plays. Indeed, many rappers did better than Shakespeare, including three members of the Wu-Tang clan.
Born Ian Bavitz in New York, Aesop Rock creates a labyrinthine brand of hip-hop, full of complex metaphors, dark humor, head-spinning rhyme schemes, vivid imagery, and intense, menacing beats. Aesop Rock teams with electronic musician Tobacco to form the duo Malibu Ken. Their self-titled debut is the first great album of 2019.
As he is prone to do, Aesop raps about his nervous tendencies. He transforms his own experiences into a poetry so esoteric, it demands dozens of listens to decipher. The beat is similarly challenging but the fuzzy drums and synth plinks are exactly the kind of sound-bed Rock excels on.
Aesop Rock (Ian Matthias Bavitz, born June 5, 1976) is an American-born Alternative Hip Hop artist. Aesop has been releasing music since 1997 when he released the self-financed Music for Earthworms. After another self-released album he signed to Mush Records and released Float. Shortly after, he signed to El-P’s Def Jux label, where he has since released a slew of succesful albums, including his most well-known album Labor Days, a concept album. When Def Jux went on indefinite hiatus , Aesop transferred over to Rhymesayers, current home of such artists as Atmosphere , Brother Ali, and Rob Sonic. Aesop Rock’s lyrics are made up of absurdist metaphors, puns, imagery and pop culture and mythology references.
For all their gifts with words, their Hokey Fright album wouldn’t mean much if it wasn’t enticing as music: Aesop Rock’s beats anchoring Kimya Dawson’s catchy ditties, each comping vocally under the other’s parts. Even better, however, is when The Uncluded join together in song. It’s almost like they’re two halves of a whole — which they are, a rare and welcome thing.
Aesop Rock: Lyric-wise, I didn’t want it to be just, “I did this. I went to the store. I think this, because I like this.” I guess my stuff starts leaning toward being a little soap box-y. Even if it’s just braggadocio stuff, it still kind of gets that way, and it just bothers me. Maybe not “bothers” me; it’s just so available for that, especially in rap music where a solo album is a record not only by a guy, but about the guy.
AR- Yeah, exactly. ’94 was a different generation and not to say I’m big enough or cool enough to be the style that defines our generation but fuck, if I’m not gonna try to keep it moving then I don’t know… I guess it happens in every genre but hip-hop fans tend to get trapped in these really little boxes of what it’s supposed to sound like. And if anything strays from that it’s like they don’t know if they’re allowed to like it. And that’s silly because the reason ’94 sounded like ’94 is because ’92 and ’93 led up to it.