Throughout all the fads, beefs, drugs and lifestyle noise that has plagued mainstream hip hop in the last 20 years, New York native MC and producer Aesop Rock has been quietly creating some of the most interesting music in the genre. Between his various projects and his solo work, Aesop has over 15 albums. His songs have appeared in video games and he has been an expert consultant on shows like Independent Lens on the subject of hip hop and its evolution. He is widely regarded within hip hop as one of the best MCs in terms of both rhyme complexity and content. Why he is largely ignored by the pop charts is anyone’s guess, but Aesop seems not only to be unphased by but perfectly happy with his under-the-radar hip hop rep.
Despite his strong foothold in the underground of hip hop and indie music, Aesop Rock’s newest album The Impossible Kid, reached number 30 on the Billboard Charts when it debuted in April, so it isn’t as if no one noticed. He also embarked on a U.S. tour supporting the album with his collaborators on previous projects, Rob Sonic and DJ Zone. The trio’s May 13 stop at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, San Diego was packed with long time-fans of all ages, none of whom were disappointed.
The Belly Up has been known in San Diego county and the world over as one of Southern California’s best live music venues, and any musician worth his or her salt knows to visit there during a tour. Known mostly as a rock venue, the Belly Up also does well with the underground hip hop crowd because of its intimate setup and well-tuned sound system. Aesop Rock has played this venue a number of times before, and so had a familiar rhythm with both stage and crowd.
While Aesop, DJ Zone and Rob Sonic performed many of the songs from The Impossible Kid, an album which was inspired by and modeled after the classic horror movie The Shining, they also knew what many in the crowd had come to see. They thus did not skimp on Aesop classics, covering all the bases from 1997’s “Plastic Soldiers” to 2012’s “Zero Dark Thirty”. The crowd took every step of the journey with Aesop and Sonic, and many surprisingly knew the words to Impossible Kid tracks, especially “Rings” and “Blood Sandwich” and the politically-charged “Dorks”.
Videos have already been made for the afore-mentioned “Rings” and “Blood Sandwich, ” as well as a literal “mini” Shining which spans the entirety of The Impossible Kid and is a shot-for-shot remake of the iconic horror film made with miniature figurines. Click below to watch the video and here for the other two videos, featured on Aesop’s Rympesayers label Youtube channel. The Impossible Kid Tour continues through July. The Rhymesayers website has the full list of remaining tour dates.
Written by Layla Marino