Aesop Rock: Lyrics to Go

January 13th, 2005 | 19 Comments | Category: Interviews, Videos

Aesop RockIf, as Marshall McLuhan insisted, puns and wordplay represent “intersections of meaning,” then Aesop Rock has a gridlock on the lyrical superhighway cloverleaf overpass steez. Every time I spin one of his records, I hear something new, some new twist of phrase, some new combination of syllables. These constant revelations are precisely why I’ve been a hip-hop head since up jumped the boogie, and Aesop keeps the heads ringin’. I’d quote some here, but you really just have to hear him bend them yourself.

The product of our multimedia all-at-once-ness, Aesop Rock mixes, matches, and melds references from the nonstop traffic of messages we all experience. It’s a lyrical journey that expands the literature of the now and not-so-gently takes your skull for a ride, mental multicar pileup notwithstanding.

Roy Christopher:
Your records unfold themselves over time. I’m always finding and figuring out new references and metaphors upon repeated listens. With all of the intricate wordplay, do you ever worry about your listeners not “getting it”?

Aesop Rock: Nah, not really. I mean, all or most of the references I make are from shit I experienced growing up: funny random movies, TV shows, music, etc. That combined with modern references of the same sort. It’s become second nature to me to write like this. I never really worried if people got it or not, ’cause it’s how I tell my story. It’s all part of a style that’s continually developing and has been for a long time.

RC:
Your lyrics are so steeped in said wordplay, they seem to be coming from a rich literary background, yet you claim not to read much. Where does your lyrical inspiration come from?

AR: Yeah, reading bores me. Like I said, it’s mostly movies and TV, and comparing real-life situations to similar nostalgic movie situations or things like that. I like strange slang, strange wording, etc., but not based on how it reads; it only matters if you can deliver it well. So, I’ll hear some weird kid’s movie expression and adapt it to hip-hop slang, and end up making up my own shit. Some people get it, some don’t.

RC: Who do you like doing hip-hop these days?

AR: I like all my friends’ stuff, very genuinely. I like DOOM. Lately the rotation has been the Beanie Segal mixtape, new Cage material for his upcoming LP. Been re-visiting Slick Rick a lot, Snoop’s new one — a lot of shit.

RC: The workaday tales of songs like “9-5ers Anthem” and “No Regrets” lay out a loose archetype for living according to one’s own passions. What are you striving for? What’s the ultimate outcome of your pursuits — in hip-hop or otherwise?

AR: I’m not sure. Passions consistently change and adapt as you get older, I am finding. I still love making rap music, but I don’t care about covering the same topics I did when I was a teenager, or in my early twenties for that matter. These days I just write about living my life, being a scumbag, feeling old, porn, the strength of having a crew behind you. Just boiling it all down to simple shit: friends, fun, sex, pain, violence — things like that. As I get older I get less obsessed with details and more obsessed with finding real general ways of saying a lot. Like an old man who doesn’t speak much, but when he does it’s some weird, clever statement that somehow sums up everything: That’s what I wanna be. Easier said than done, of course.

RC: With all of the controversy surrounding records like Danger Mouse’s Grey Album (i.e., issues of intellectual property, copyrights, artistic freedom, etc.), the Build Your Own Bazooka Tooth remix contest bridges the gap. What was the impetus behind this project?

AR: Well, Jux has a nice history of releasing instrumental versions of records, so we just built on that idea: We gave out all the instrumentals and a cappellas and said, “here, have fun.” It gives the fans that are actually involved in music-making something to play with.

RC: Tell us about the new EP, Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives (Definitive Jux, 2005). It’s coming with an extended book of all your lyrics, right?

AR: Yeah. It’s got seven new songs: three Blockhead beats, one Rob Sonic beat, and three by me. Guest rappers are El-P and Camu Tao. Cage and Metro both do choruses also. It’s real family oriented and, at this point, is my favorite stuff I’ve ever done. It’s kinda funky. We also spent a lot of time on the packaging, which contains an eighty-eight-page book of all the lyrics from Float to the present. It took me fucking forever, and I almost lost my mind transcribing it all, but I had some ill designers that really pulled the book and the whole EP package together to look sick. Seems like everyone’s doing DVDs or enhanced CDs, but I didn’t want to do that. So, I thought this could be a cool thing, something a bit different, something that looks good and is cool for the fans to have. People lose and scratch DVDs. Hopefully the time we put into making the book and CD package look good will make people wanna hold onto it.

RC:
Are you working on anything else that you’d like to mention here?

AR: Well, just getting ready to hit the road again. I have a few guest spots dropping soon: on the new Zion I record, the Rasco record, Cage record. Beats on the new C-Rayz record, beats and rhymes on the new S.A. Smash record. I rap on the new Prefuse 73 record too. Some mixtape shit. You’ll be hearing from me a lot, hopefully. Plus, I started work on new solo material, so we’ll see what happens there.

——

Here’s Aesop Rock’s video for “Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives” (runtime: 3:59) from the EP of the same name:

And here’s one from Bazooka Tooth. The Style-Wars-inspired “No Jumper Cables” (runtime: 4:00):

Further Posting:

19 Comments »

  • Andre` Nelson said:

    Man, Ace is like, almost my favorite rapper, the only reason why He isnt my very favorite is because I dont fully understand him. I also think that Aesop Rock is the most coolest and original alias ever created. And i like his vocab. Keep it up Ace!

  • Follow for Now » Aesop Rock Chimes In said:

    [...] Aesop Rock had the following to say about Follow for Now: fuck yeah. such a diverse collection of interviews from all types of interesting folk. even the people whom i was not familiar with prior to this were great, excluding me cuz i suck at life. really well done, man. i brought it on tour. best a.r. [...]

  • Alex Nixon said:

    Aesop is definitely one of 5 emcees tied for first in my personal hierarchy of definitive lyricists. He’s also the only artist I’ve ever heard who has referenced Occam’s Razor. And as for the most original rap moniker… I’d go C Rayz Wallz. That’s the most original… and dumb.

  • Roy Christopher » Guest Post: Aesop Rock on Scones said:

    [...] Best, Aesop Rock [...]

  • Roy Christopher » Hangar 18: Hip-hop Babylon said:

    [...] the group, he still is our main producer. We all see it as a relationship similar to blockhead and Aes — where we can both do our own thing, but it is expected by all of us and hopefully the fans [...]

  • R.I.P. Camu Tao | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] “Aesop Rock” [...]

  • Cadence Weapon: Check the Technique | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] a “hit” (e.g., De La Soul’s “Me, Myself, and I,” or more recently, Aesop Rock’s “No Regrets”) Do you ever resent the attention you got from [...]

  • No Regrets: Definitive Jux Changes Gears | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] Peace to Alaska, Wind N Breeze, Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, El-P, Big Wiz, Dibbs, Metro, Murs, Lif, RJD2, Cage, Calm Pete, Mike Ladd, and [...]

  • How To Do Stuff and Be Happy | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] For my recent guest lecture at UIC, I was tasked with three things. Mike Schandorf asked me to do a little motivating, do a little background, and answer some questions. For the first, I went back through some of the posts here, some things I used to handout at the end of the semester in my classes, and a few key essays by people who have motivated me. This is still rather diffuse, bit since these are all just recommendations (i.e., you should only use what works for you and ignore the rest; they are suggested tactics, not steadfast rules), it would probably seem that way no matter. “Dream a little dream, Or you can live a little dream I’d rather live it ‘Cause dreamers always chase But never get it” — Aesop Rock [...]

  • Aesop Rock’s 900 Bats | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] Aesop Rock, who previously wrote here about breakfast, just launched a new website called 900 Bats — a creative resource for arts, information, and oddities.  It shows the breadth of his interest in art (i.e., video, audio, art, photos, etc.) and as an artist. It’s not his own artist site (try as I might to get him to do one), it goes way beyond something like that.  Spread the word. [...]

  • Aesop Rock’s 900 Bats | Well-Red Bear said:

    [...] Aesop Rock, who previously wrote here about breakfast, just launched a new website called 900 Bats — a creative resource for arts, information, and oddities. It shows the breadth of his interest in art (i.e., video, audio, art, photos, etc.) and as an artist. It’s not his own artist site (try as I might to get him to do one), it goes way beyond something like that. [...]

  • How To Do Stuff and Be Happy | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] For my recent guest lecture at UIC, I was tasked with three things. Mike Schandorf asked me to do a little motivating, do a little background, and answer some questions. For the first, I went back through some of the posts here, some things I used to handout at the end of the semester in my classes, and a few key essays by people who have motivated me. This is still rather diffuse, but since these are all just recommendations (i.e., you should only use what works for you and ignore the rest; they are suggested tactics, not steadfast rules), it would probably seem that way no matter. “Dream a little dream, Or you can live a little dream I’d rather live it ‘Cause dreamers always chase But never get it” — Aesop Rock [...]

  • Rappin’ is My Radio: New Books on Rap’s Poetics | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] Edan, Eyedea (R.I.P., Mikey), O.C., Big L, Pharoahe Monch, Black Sheep, Brother Ali, and the homies Aesop Rock and Chino XL, among many, many others. Bradley points out in Book of Rhymes that lyrics are to be [...]

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  • Comprehensive Exams on 900 Bats | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] Aesop Rock posted the flatland compilation video I did during my comprehensive exams. So, if you haven’t seen it, head over there and check it out, along with other fun stuff from Hail Mary Mallon, Jeremy Fish, Kimya Dawson, Rob Sonic, Aesop, and friends. [...]

  • Please Support Adult Rappers | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] lucky enough to go on to make some records (when they still made those) with names like Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock, Cage, C-Rayz Walz and others before ultimately signing to El-P’s Definitive Jux label as one [...]

  • Aggro Rag: Ride First, Read Later | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] for me, Daily asked me to interview my dude Aesop Rock, which I did gladly. It’s an honor to be a part of the zine I read so avidly in my youth. [...]

  • Aesop Rock: Perpendicular to Everything | Roy Christopher said:

    [...] Oh, of course! The last time we talked formally interview-wise, you said, “As I get older I get less obsessed with details and more obsessed with finding [...]

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