Aesop Rock: All Grown Up?

 
I'm kind of happier these days. People get scared of being happy when they're artists because they think it's going to be the beginning of the end, but I don't know; it's sort of grounded me in this way where I could finally write music that's not all about me complaining.

-Aesop Rock

 

JUDGMENT DAY

Aesop Rock
As much as Aesop points the mirror away from himself, any piece of art reflects the artist, and on his latest effort he can't help but take stock. "I found turning 30 to be a time, like what better time, to sort of reflect on what you've done thus far, just kind of go through your life one step at a time, think about what kind of person you're turning out to be, and if you like that person," says Aesop. This idea of judgment gave birth to the title: None Shall Pass. "It was kind of like nobody's going to get past this point [turning 30] of their lives without kind of being forced into being judged and kind of judging other people and sort of, I don't know, coming of age."

Growing up isn't what we expected when we were kids. We don't just wake up one day and feel well adjusted with our nice house, big paycheck, spouse and kids. There's no formula, no definitive switch that gets flipped. It's a slow process, a gradual development where our selfish views give way to broader thoughts. We embrace responsibility and rise above our trials as opposed to sinking under their weight. "I feel like I lead a calmer life than I ever have," offers Aesop. "I find myself making decisions that are taking into account the fact that I now have myself and my wife to worry about and it's more than just me. I'm trying to think ahead a little bit and think for two instead of for one. In many ways, I do feel like that's sort of [adulthood] kicking in, whether I like it or not."

Listening to Aesop Rock speak openly and kindly today it's hard to believe he's the same paranoid freak that used to stare through his apartment blinds, afraid to go outside. Maybe it's the change of scenery, maybe it's finding true love, maybe it's just getting older or some combination of it all, but one thing's for sure, Aesop Rock is growing up. And he's as prolific as ever. Not only has he created what could be his best album yet, but the past couple years found Aesop collaborating on a short story called "The Next Best Thing" with visual artist Jeremy Fish, scoring original music for two short films and creating All Day, a 45-minute nonstop workout mix for Nike as part of their "Original Run" series.

DON'T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH

Aesop Rock
Aesop's always-innovative beats avoid predictable jazz loops in exchange for gritty rock with a dirty funk heart. The music on None Shall Pass retains Aesop's abrasive, heavy style but also features more live instrumentation than ever before. Amongst a few special guests (most notably production guru Blockhead and Def Jux label head El-P), Aesop plays bass and keys, his wife plays guitar and there's a bunch of rare samples that do things like mix a snare from the '80s, a bass line from the '70s and a heavy rock guitar riff from today. There's even a guest spot from The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle on the disc-closer "Coffee."

"I've been a fan [of Darnielle] for like thirteen years or something like that. I was going to Mountain Goats shows for a lot of years. I always looked up to him as a lyric writer, and I always thought he was just really one of the better songwriters of our time," offers Aesop. The appreciation went both ways and Darnielle jumped at the chance to collaborate again (they worked together years ago on a track that never got used). The results are excellent and the track reminds us just how outside the box Aesop Rock really is. The term "indie" sticks to Aesop like the pungent smell of ganja, and when you hear Darnielle - a lo-fi, indie-folk hero - floating over the staccato beats and matching Aesop's thick flow, the term couldn't me more accurate. Aesop Rock is a bridge from hip-hop to indie rock. His beats are a dirty hybrid of the two and his lyrical content alone would make him a legend in any scene.

Aesop Rock has done it, he's figured out how to channel his pain into his art without self-destructing. Instead of falling deeper and deeper into his own shit, he's looking past his tiny slice of life and catching a glimpse of the universe. He's used his music as a way to process all the crap we swallow and has come out the other side happy, at peace and still creatively vital. He's hit the "dirty thirty," left his troubled days in New York behind, moved across the country and got married. So, is Aesop Rock really all grown up? "I don't know," he says. "It's a hard call because I'm still so [pauses] like if I see a cool toy, I'll buy it. And I'm still playing video games."

Check out the video for "None Shall Pass"

Aesop Rock is on tour now, check him out HERE.

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[Published on: 9/13/07]

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Comments

gmoo Thu 9/13/2007 11:58AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gmoo

Aesop Rock = heady lyrical synthesis = brilliant artist

Andrew W. starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/13/2007 12:12PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Andrew W.

Love the Rock! Great article...

spun'dun'git'r starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/13/2007 12:12PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

spun'dun'git'r

Well said, gmoo. Aesop is sounding ill... saw him in philly recently and also at bonnaroo, and both were absolutely solid performances. Usually, I cant get too hyped for live hip hop but such is not the case with Aes (DJ Big Wiz is nasty, but Rob Sonic gets a little bit annoying). Pick up the new album, its excellent, and if your at his show, pick up the reissue of Appleseed, as it may be some of his best work. Keep on keepin on Aesop.

aquariumdrunk Thu 9/13/2007 12:13PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

aquariumdrunk

I was totally standing next to Aesop Rock in the airport the other day. I just kind of stared and then looked at the ground when he'd look at me. Yeah...that's all I got.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 9/13/2007 12:31PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

Love the Aes Rizzle !

Runde Thu 9/13/2007 01:38PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Runde

Just Rhapsodized "None Shall Pass". It's sick! Great article Kayceman.

freetime3 starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/13/2007 01:42PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

freetime3

I'm not asking you to act like you notice (Oh Aesop's SO Mesozoic.) - Mars Attacks

Love all of his body of works. Keek it up!!

cuttyfives Thu 9/13/2007 03:20PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Andrew W. starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/13/2007 03:21PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Andrew W.

Mamba, Water Moc, Pit Viper, Diamond Back, Anaconda, Boom Slang, Cobra, bite 'em back. Spinal tap crabs to the clapper. Aesop Rock is the Cadillac of natural disaster.

paulyblunts Thu 9/13/2007 03:41PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

paulyblunts

as far as white boy rappers go..i'll take atmosphere over this guy any day

cuttyfives Thu 9/13/2007 04:09PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

not even close to 1 of the years best, if you dont believe, check for yourself

not in any order

Ghostface & MF Doom - Swift & Changeable

Talib Kweli & Madlib - The Liberation

50 Cent- Curtis

Kanye West- Graduation

Devin the Dude - Waitin' to Inhale

Common - Finding Forever

J Dilla - Donuts

Rich Boy- RIch Boy

Madlib-BEat Konducta

Dre-DEtox....its commin

Snoop- The blue carpet treatment

jay Z kingdowm come

Talib Kweli Eardrum

Pharoahe Monch Desire

Nas Hiphop is dead

to name a few, aesops might crack top 25 in my book, buts that me, and dont say they are different genres, thats splittin hairs

Kayceman starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/13/2007 04:19PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Kayceman

I'll take Aesop over every album above (maybe not J Dilla)... but as ya said, it's all opinions and i'm not much for mainstream hip-hop, i like the weird shit with crazy ideas, dense verbosity and ethereal stutter-funk. dude is insanely creative, and i luv his tweaked out mind-fuck shit... but eh, that's just me.

johnnygoff starstarstarstar Thu 9/13/2007 05:58PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

johnnygoff

hey kayce...liked the piece. this is one 'the omnipotent goff' is not a kin to. I appreciate the heads up on this. Heard of him...not heard him.

Can you recommend some shows/albums for this kid? cheers...

oh and kayce, you had me with "tweaked out mind-fuck shit"...haha.

5000. goff.

cuttyfives Thu 9/13/2007 09:27PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

well kayce you def. know your stuff and i respect that and your opinions. Also, your vernacular is priceless. Enjoy the weekend peeps

cuttyfives Thu 9/13/2007 09:28PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

oh yeah, thanks for not givin me the -1 you are a real dude

deftone984 Fri 9/14/2007 10:21AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

deftone984

"escape briefly back to my apartment, park in front the van, reminesce about the day i ran a mile with your heart in my hand." yo jgoff, i think everything hes done is great but this new album is a good place to start. or check out labor days... but its all brilliant shit.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Sat 9/15/2007 11:42AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

Cuttyfives,

Dilla's Donuts came out last year. Anything by Dilla is solid. Oh yeah, does anybody find it funny how Kanye outsold 50 Cent and got way better reviews? I think it's time for the alpha male gangsta materialism shit to go. Give 50 Cent a couple of more years and he'll be on an episode of the "Surreal Life" and playing State Fairs with Heavy D and the Boyz

Kindskatz starstarstarstar Sun 9/16/2007 09:34AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Kindskatz

TO CUTTY FIVES

The fact that you included Rich Boy and Kingdom Come on your little list showed that you're not a REAL hip hop fan. The fact that you added "Curtis" to this list shows that you're not a MUSIC fan period. I think you're on the wrong site, head over to MTV.com, that shits more up you're alley. G G G G G G-UNit!

cuttyfives Sun 9/16/2007 06:39PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

kindskatz- you dont know shit about Hip Hop. you can listen to all the soft ass nerd/emo/backpacker rap you want. THAT SHIT IS NOT REAL HIP HOP! Curtis is a decent album, im not sayin its great but there are some good tracks.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 9/17/2007 09:32AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

give me the new galactic "from the corner to the block" thats plenty of rap hop for me. I can finally say, I own a rap cd!!! One is enough for now :P

peace ya'll

zzdowz Mon 9/17/2007 10:45AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

zzdowz

How the hell did 50 cent even get mentioned??? That is just absurd, the guy lip synchs and more than likely doesn't even write his own music. Anyways Aesop is tight, I don't think anybody ever has to worry about Aesop doing duets with Justin Timberlake or beefing with Kanye, hopefully.

paulyblunts starstarstarstar Mon 9/17/2007 11:34AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

paulyblunts

i was catering a party at 50 cent mega mansion in CT a few months ago. the dj started hyping up 50's new hot single and when he played the song it was just 50 covering the dead president's "hip hop" word for word. sad thing is most people who listen to 50 are morons and will think its a 50 cent song..that was weak! remember when pop artists used to have talent?

cuttyfives Mon 9/17/2007 03:00PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

1 more thing and im done, i swear. Aesop is all over MTV as of late...

stellarrstarr starstarstarstar Mon 9/17/2007 09:43PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

stellarrstarr

I find this album to be some juicy sonic goodness! I have only started to gain an ear for hip hop VERY recently ... I don't wear a backpack, but I still like it! ;o)

Can't wait to catch them at Boulder's Fox Theatre on Friday, October 19th!