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|Tuesday, May 21st, 2013|
Aesop brings back what hip-hop’s been missing
Victor De Jong
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Published: Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
Aesop Rock, real name Ian Bavitz, is a hip-hop artist who was born in Long Island, New York in 1976. He released his first album, Music for Earthworms, in 1997 without a label. Since then, he’s released five other albums with various labels, and for his sixth album he found himself partnered with Rhymesayers Entertainment. The 36-year-old artist has never seemed concerned with having a record deal, preferring to put out a new album whenever he feels like it.
After releasing albums on a consistent basis from 1997 to 2007, Aesop took a five-year break before releasing his latest album, Skelethon. The break involved a major transition for him as he dealt with personal issues and faced making an album without the Definitive Jux label that he’d been with for his last three albums. The interim was spent working on side projects and making guest appearances on several friends’ albums. Much of his work is created by collaborating within the creative community. A track on Skelethon got its beat courtesy of an artist he’d performed a verse for. Aesop isn’t interested in getting huge crowds at his shows or having the number-one album on iTunes (which he did following this latest album release), he’s just focused on the evolution of his craft.
His latest record is 15 tracks are classic Aesop Rock: mystifying lyrics, constantly evolving beats and surprisingly intimate poetry. A casual listen to many tracks may sound like nonsensical gibberish but the beat and lyrics combine to form a fascinating work of art. Any work by Aesop requires multiple listens to distinguish the storyline of the song and the theme of the album. Instead of traditional themes and simple stories, he weaves more complex stories with provoking characters. On the track “Ruby ’81,” Aesop weaves a tale about a young child who falls into the pool on the July 4 during the fireworks – not the typical subject matter for a hip-hop artist, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, Aesop is no typical artist.
You can find Skelethon and other albums by Aesop Rock on iTunes and he’s playing a show in Toronto on July 30. If you’ve lost interest in the repetitive nature of modern hip-hop with its inspired lyrics of “rack city, rack rack city” then maybe you’re ready for something with a little more substance.