Aesop Rock popped out of the womb with a mic in hand, seriously! This New York genius was born to become a rap legend. 1996 is an important year for Hip-Hop and that’s when Aesop quickly became a lyrical ass kicking metaphorical master within the hip-hop genre. His latest release, “The Impossible Kid” is Aesop Rock at his finest and no fan should miss out on this soon to be classic!
By Chad Thomas Carsten
From Jan/Feb 2017 Vandala Magazine
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Are you able to go into detail on the exact thoughts that rushed through your mind when you first held a microphone in your hand?
Aesop Rock: Mostly just fear. As much as I loved writing and recording, I didn’t want to be bad. I wanted it to sound cool, and that takes a long time. In a live setting, it was even worse, because I’m not really a “show-y” dude. I guess I liked doing it all in private, but once it came time to show others, it was just pure fear. Not so much “check me out!” – It was more like “Check me out – or not, I’m sorry, I’ll go.”
How did New York shape who you are today?
Aesop Rock: It’s everything I am. I have lived on the west coast for about 10 years now, but I spent 30 years on the east, primarily in NY – Long Island, Manhattan, and BK. My approach to everything I do even now is attached to sensibilities that coincide with what NY means to me. It’s home, even if for now I feel a need to explore. I am a NYer off on an adventure.
How would you define Hip-Hop in your own words and what are your true thoughts on the current state of hip-hop and the sounds of today?
Aesop Rock: I don’t know – I just like rapping. I’m fine with things evolving, and I never really had a “kids these days!” type of attitude. The shit has gone through so many phases, some you feel, some you don’t. Sometimes what’s popular currently seeps in and shows up in my work – other times it gets ignored. I’m fine with everything changing, and I don’t really feel pressure to sound like “now” or “then”. Ideally, I just sound like me, for better or worse.
What makes an Aesop Rock show unique and original from other artists? Why should a new Hip-Hop fan attend an Aesop Rock show?
Aesop Rock: I don’t really know. I just try to translate my recordings to stage. If the idea of that interests you, come on down.
Which three records of yours should a new fan start out with and why?
Aesop Rock: Whatever the most recent 3 are at the time you are looking. I can’t really listen to anything of mine that’s more than a year or two old, so I always find what I’m doing now to be the most exciting.
How does the album art featured within The Impossible Kid reflect your own childhood?
Aesop Rock: It doesn’t. It reflects the idea of a person wanting to disappear into the woods forever, and be friends with animals, and go crazy until the solitude takes on a life of its own. It mostly reflects “getting away”.
Is there a deeper meaning behind the album title for Impossible Kid?
Aesop Rock: It just seemed to work. I feel impossible to deal with. I feel ultimate happiness may be impossible for me. It works on a lot of levels for me, so I rolled with it. It’s that “I’ll never get anything right” feeling.
Where was The Impossible Kid primarily recorded and are there any favorite behind the scene moments you’d like to share?
Aesop Rock: It was all in the pacific North West. First half was in a barn in the woods, 2nd half was in an apartment in the city. No real exciting behind the scenes stuff. I’ve been a home-recorder since high school, so that’s just what’s most comfortable for me. I get up, I work.
Inside “Rings” you dropped the line “Used to draw hard to admit that I “used” to draw”. Are you able to break that line down in more detail in terms of what were your favorite things to draw and how many hours a day to use to spend drawing?
Aesop Rock: I just grew up doing more art than anything. It was my main plan. I took figure drawing classes after school starting in high school, went to college to get a degree in painting. Visual art was always my main plan in life. Music was my hobby. My music stuff started getting attention and I slowly shifted more into that – mostly just because it was a creative endeavor in which I was finding positive reinforcement. As for hours a day… No clue. It was all I did for a very long time.
Will you ever pick up the pencil and paintbrush for art purposes again?
Aesop Rock: Yes – I do from time to time, but I think the dream of having that be a successful endeavor in my life has left the building.
Was there anything recording wise that you’ve always wanted to do, that you finally were able to do within The Impossible Kid?
Aesop Rock: My recording process has been essentially the same since the 90s. If anything I think I’ve just been coming closer to finding “my” sound – whatever that means. So in that sense, The Impossible Kid is my most successful attempt. But the actual process has been almost identical since the beginning.
Most challenging moment you faced when preparing to first record The Impossible Kid?
Aesop Rock: I don’t know what one stands out. It’s always a challenge all the way through, and I’m always haunted with the idea that this is going to be the one that just fails completely. I tend to shut off the outside world a lot when I’m working, so the scariest parts come from the realization that people are gonna hear this stuff – which isn’t always something I’m thinking about when working. I just kinda plug away and hope I’m not just making a mess.
The most personal song featured on The Impossible Kid and why it’s the most personal to you?
Aesop Rock: They’re all my babies.
How did you and Homeboy Sandman first meet and how far along is Lice Three?
Aesop Rock: We met over email – I just reached out to say I loved his work and wanted to know if he was interested in doing some shows. Lice 3 at present is just an idea.
What motivates to keep pursuing Hip-Hop after all these years?
Aesop Rock: It’s all I know. I don’t really have anything else to do. I like writing and rapping, and it’s been a part of me forever. I don’t really need motivation per se, it’s just there. I need to make stuff, that’s why I made art and music my whole life. It doesn’t feel like I have a choice.
Aesop Rock Online