Aesop Rock interview - February 2008


Feb 4 2008, 22:14

It’s been over 10 years since his first album and Aesop Rock is still better than your favourite rapper. He took time out from the start of his 2008 European tour to kick the ballistics with us...

Can you remember when you first discovered hip-hop? Was there a certain track or artist that hooked you in?
It was sorta simultaneously RUN DMC’s raising hell, and License to Ill by the Beastie Boys. My mother took them and threw them both out so I knew I was onto something. Plus I guess being a white guy from the burbs knowing all the lyrics to “proud to be black” may appear odd to a mother. I dunno what is was exactly, probably the fact that it was the first time I had heard the personality of the artist show thru. Hip hop lyricists really get to do that more than almost any other writers. Let themselves really be who they are. It’s a shame it isn’t like that as much these days. Everyone must appear impervious to pain, instead of just buggin’ out and having fun with it.

In 2000, El-P said:
“Def-Jux are friends. We lean on them when we’re in trouble. It’s more than just a career opportunity. It’s a system of support. We’re more powerful in numbers”
Is that still true in 2008?

I guess to a degree. I mean, take into account we’re all kinda old and grumpy these days, but yeah, I feel like I could definitely lean on a lot of the older core artists if and when I need to. At the same time, we are all on our own shit right now. Everyone is finding their path musically, and sometimes that outweighs the “Crew” aspect of it, in a healthy way. We also don’t live as close as we all used to, and after all touring together for many years, we are trying to kinda branch out to give the audience some different stuff to check these days. but for all intents and purposes, there is a definite family vibe that goes along with the label, and while it’s more of a "label" now than ever before, on most days I still feel like I’m part of something special.

It seems Daylight is always a crowd pleaser at gigs, but I gather it’s not your favourite. Do you have a favourite Aesop Rock track? Is there one you particularly enjoy performing live?
Well it’s not that I don’t like Daylight, its just that I’ve heard it and played it about a billion times now, so its not even like music to me anymore. Ha. I like the newest stuff as far as performing. always the new. 39 thieves is fun. I like doing Coffee. A lot of this newer material really caters to live performance more than anything I’ve done, so most of the stuff off the None Shall Pass album has been fun to rock.


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