The Enduring Weirdness of Aesop Rock

Vortex Music Magazine

Portland’s newest resident brings his verbose rhyming to the Wonder Ballroom on May 7.

Aesop Rock is an enigma 39 years in the making. A rapper that transcends the genre, he has succeeded where most white lyricists haven’t, carving out an oddball, ridiculously complex niche that skirts stereotypes by being totally and unequivocally unique.

But exactly who is Aesop Rock? Born in 1979, Ian Bavitz is finally beginning to give some hints. Six albums deep, and dangling his seventh above the hungry maws of eagerly awaiting fans, the Long Island rapper has largely shrouded himself in a thick cloud of verbose, lyrical metaphor and mysterious subject matter. His latest album, The Impossible Kid, which drops April 29, may finally grant at least a little bit of transparency.

Aes has entered a reflective point in his life, teetering on the edge of 40 and “attempting to age gracefully in a field that champions youth,” he says. “I’ve needed to adapt my writing from the social life of an early 20-something making the most of a bubbling rap scene, to just growing into other things.” If the singles released from The Impossible Kid are any indicator, this sentiment is being reflected in his music in a very real way, whether or not he is conscious of it.

A longtime New Yorker, and more recently an ex-resident of San Francisco, Bavitz now calls, of all places, Portland his home. He made the move some time before starting work on The Impossible Kid, citing the bridge city as “beautiful,” and “a great place to find some peace while I work away.”

He’s already incorporated some local landmarks into his promotional materials for the new album, the last of which featured a live performance of the new track “Lazy Eye” recorded in the appropriately creepy Peculiarium in NW Portland (see above). Since then, his label Rhymesayers Entertainment released a full stream (watch below) of The Impossible Kid accompanied by a 49-minute visual mini-tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

A new album means a new tour and Rock will be trickling down the Pacific Northwest for performances with Stones Throw artist, and frequent collaborator, Homeboy Sandman. On May 7, Aes will hit the Wonder Ballroom in PDX for the third show of the tour, and after giving the album a few spins, I can confidently say it will be one to put on your calendars with a big fat X.

Stay tuned for a full interview with Aesop Rock, in which he speaks on his experience living and creating in Portland, along with a gallery of live photos from his upcoming show in PDX.

Till then, don’t miss Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic and DJ Zone plus Homeboy Sandman at the Wonder Ballroom on Saturday, May 7.

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