Aesop Rock

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Aesop Rock performing at a concert
Although little is known about his personal life, Aesop Rock (born Ian Bavitz) is well known in the underground hip hop scene as an original and inventive rapper. His style blends a varying tone and delivery with densely abstract lyrics and a Dadaist style that some critics attack as random and meaningless ("rhymes with no substance"), while others discover meanings within them. Some go as far to call him a street poet because his rhymes are closer to poetry than the nihilism and materialism usually associated with hip hop. His referential pseudonym, a nod to famous Greek storyteller Aesop, seems to be proof enough of his unusual material, although in interviews he explains that the name stuck with him after he portrayed a character named Aesop in a friend's movie.

A tall (6'4"), white, New York City-based rapper, Aesop initially did records for the Mush record label while working as a waiter in the city. Mush released his first major album, Float with guest appearances from Cannibal Ox, Slug and Dose One. Production was done by Blockhead and Aesop himself. Lyrics included "I'm an honesty columnist, fathering doom documents, a cursed version of a certain Virgin Mary womb occupant".

Shortly after releasing Float, Aesop Rock signed to Definitive Jux where he released Labor Days, an album dedicated to the discussion of labor in American society and the concept of "wage slaves." This album was most known for its single, Daylight with an unmistakable chorus: "All I ever wanted was to pick apart the day, put the pieces back together my way". Because of its popularity, Daylight was re-released in 2002 as a 7-track EP, including a re-written remix of the song, Nightlight, whose lyrics stand in definitive juxtaposition to the original.

After a brief pause between releases, Labor Days was followed up by Bazooka Tooth, his most recent full-length album. This time around, production was mostly done by Aesop and El-P, president and CEO of Definitive Jux. Guest appearances include Party Fun Action Committee, El-P, Mr. Lif (all Definitive Jux labelmates) and Camp Lo. With this release Aesop hit a higher level of recognition, releasing a single and music video (No Jumper Cables) and then another shortly after (Freeze).

While the album has a more mainstream sound, shown by songs such as Limelighters, it retains Aesop's intense and inventive lyrics. Examples from Freeze: "you should have shot yourself in the foot while it was in your mouth" and "before you kick your feet up, I married and divorced Mother Nature after sweet-talking that old hag out of a pre-nup". At another point, Aesop interrupts the song 11:35 with a sudden minute-long rap, performed almost a cappella over a minimal beat: "I got one - Jack for Jill, Jill won't, Jack will. Jill didn't, then did, Jack fell" Bazooka Tooth was criticized by fans of Labor Days and Float that Aesop seems to have lost his compassion found in his first two albums and has replaced it with a more confrontational and traditional style. El-P says that Aesop smokes four packs of cigarettes a day, and (on the Revenge of the Robots Tour DVD) Aesop Rock has seemingly confirmed this, saying that smoking cigarettes will make your "voice dope".

In February of 2005, Aesop Rock released his new EP, Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives. The first pressing of the EP includes an 88 page booklet with lyrics from every release from Float until this EP (the lyric booklet is titled The Living Human Curiosity Sideshow); further pressings of the album come without the booklet. In addition, a limited number of albums were available direct from his label with Aesop Rock's graffiti tag on them. In response to demands from his fans, Aesop did less producing on the EP. The EP has three songs produced by Blockhead, three produced by Aesop, and one produced by Rob Sonic. As of Summer 2005, he is on tour.



Mush releases

Definitive Jux releases

Independent releases

External links

es:Aesop Rock gl:Aesop Rock


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