Interview: Aesop Rock on death, the rap scene, and being “old and weird”

Aesop Rock: Skelethon (Rhymesayers, 7/10/12)

“Zero Dark Thirty”

Aesop Rock: “Zero Dark Thirty”

Rap, understandably, always has placed an emphasis on lyrics, but most rappers are content to find the cleverest way to proclaim their sexual prowess and/or ability to rap well and call it a day. Rapper Aesop Rock (born Ian Bavitz), a veteran of now-defunct label Definitive Jux, doesn’t aim so low, shoving allusions, metaphors, and symbols into a motley band of verbosity that’s unmatched in hip hop. This is rap on hard mode. Don’t expect to understand everything he says on first listen (or tenth), a fact that’s earned him both praise and contempt. Case in point: one of the biggest selling points of a 2005 EP was a fat book of his collected lyrics. He returned this past July on Rhymesayers with Skelethon.

Aesop Rock

Video: Aesop Rock’s “Zero Dark Thirty”

Aesop Rock: SkelethonAesop Rock: Skelethon (Rhymesayers, 7/10/12)

Indie-rap icon Aesop Rock is releasing his first solo album in five years, Skelethon, on July 10. The followup LP to None Shall Pass features full production by Aesop as well as a small clan of contributors, including Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts, Kimya Dawson, and the other members of Hail Mary Mallon.

The video for “Zero Dark Thirty,” the first track released off his forthcoming album, shows a stoic, subdued Aesop reclined against a wall while time-lapse murals are painted and painted over behind him. Though the concept may be straightforward, the effect leaves a lasting impression.

Aesop Rock

Concert Photos: Aesop Rock @ Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL)

The unlikely pairing of hip-hop artist Aesop Rock and indie-pop songwriter Kimya Dawson recently took the stage in Chicago. The two have been collaborating on new material and have already performed together a handful of times this year. The show at Lincoln Hall, which also featured performances from Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz (with Aesop, the three comprise the new group Hail Mary Mallon), kicked off with an acoustic set from Dawson. At one point or another in the night, everyone performed with everyone else, breathing new life into old tunes and introducing new tunes to an eager audience. Photographer Tracy Graham captured these shots.

Rob Sonic

DIY Venue Spotlight: 1919 Hemphill

According to 1919 Hemphill’s website guy, Al, the venue is a “volunteer-run community and performance space that follows the DIY ethic. We have shows of all kinds; a free store; a book, zine and music library; and we offer an alcohol- and smoke-free environment for all kinds of events and meetings.”

DIY Venue Spotlight: The Bike Barn

The Bike Barn is the northern-most DIY venue we have profiled so far. Known as Falmouth, Maine’s only interesting attraction, the barn is a popular destination for locals and tourists when the weather is warm.

For more than four years, this space has hosted performances and classes. Currently, a house is being built so that shows can continue through the winter months.