Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,741,889 articles and books

Aesop Rock's well-chosen words paint dense, fascinating pictures.



Byline: Serena Markstrom The Register-Guard

He shrugs off the genius label, doesn't want to be too famous to walk in the grocery store alone and thinks someone who keeps his home as messy as he does shouldn't be anyone's mentor.

But Ian Bavitz can't stop the wave of worshippers from heralding his work as Aesop Rock Aesop Rock (born Ian Matthias Bavitz on May 11, 1976) is an American hip hop artist. He was in the forefront of the new wave of underground acts that emerged during the late 1990s/early 2000s. He is signed to El-P's Definitive Jux label.  as the savior of hip-hop and maybe even music in general.

Look at a page of lyrics from his latest, "None Shall Pass," and it's as dense as an essay. But unlike some of the more literate lyricists out there (Colin Meloy from the Decemberists comes to mind), Aes didn't study English.

His degree is in painting.

His songs have as many dots as an impressionists' work. But because each dot is its own image and not just a color, Aes' elaborate rhymes - packed with cultural, religious and personal references - have almost as much going on as Hieronymus Bosch's 15th century masterpiece, "The Garden of Delights."

That could sound intimidating, but only if you are intent on understanding exactly what he is saying and why, and what semblance it has to his personal life.

Bavitz's new album is deeply personal, dealing in large part with maturing, but it is also universal. It's not necessary to know anything about Bavitz to appreciate his messages.

Like a detailed mural, you can pick and choose where to focus and derive your own meanings. Just like fans have been doing for years on lyric interpretation Web sites.

Also reducing the intimidation factor on "None Shall Pass" is that it has its share of funny moments. And while amusing, a mock-interview video on YouTube.com that calls itself an EPK EPK Electronic Press Kit
EPK Episkopi, Cyprus (city/airport code)
EPK Electronic Product Knowledge
EPK Enterprise Public Key
EPK Encryption Provider Key
EPK Electronic Personal Key
 (that's short for electronic press kit) only thickens the mystery around Aesop Rock and his work.

Author Terry Tempest Williams Terry Tempest Williams (born 1955), is an American author, naturalist, and environmental activist. The main subject of her writings is the deserts of the American West. She is considered an ecologist and a naturalist, but writes about other issues as well, including issues of  got so obsessed ob·sess  
v. ob·sessed, ob·sess·ing, ob·sess·es

v.tr.
To preoccupy the mind of excessively.

v.intr.
 with Bosch's painting that she wrote a whole book about it, "Leap," published in 2000. There would be enough material on "None Shall Pass" for some industrious college kid to write a thesis about how underground hip-hop can be quite educational and needn't rot the minds of impressionable preteens.

Aes isn't the only rapper (there's also KRS-One, Slug, Chuck D Carlton Douglas Ridenhour (born August 1, 1960), better known by his stage name Chuck D, is an American rapper, composer, actor, author, radio personality and producer. Chuck was born in Roosevelt, Long Island, New York, U.S.  and Wu-Tang Clan) with a knack for packing much information in small amounts of time. He has a gift of clarity in his delivery that would make the most proper vocal coach A vocal coach is a person, who works with singers on their singing technique, care and development of the voice, performance and preparation of a work. The coach may give instruction to the singer in private lessons, on stage, or during a recording session.  clap her gloved hands and praise his diction.

Bavitz can thank a long-term relationship with Blockhead - his producer, good friend and touring partner - for some of these crisp, clear, perfectly balanced tracks, but Aes has been producing his own beats since before eighth graders were born. He gets credits on five of 14 tracks on the new disc.Blockhead also will perform solo Tuesday at the WOW Hall.

Blockhead produced "Cof-fee" and "None Shall Pass," the CD's two standout tracks. Bavitz's wife, Allyson Baker, plays guitar on those two tracks and three others.

Aside from overt references to characters and topics as diverse as Pontius Pilate Pontius Pilate (pŏn`shəs pī`lət), Roman prefect of Judaea (A.D. 26–36?). He was supposedly a ruthless governor, and he was removed at the complaint of Samaritans, among whom he engineered a massacre.  in "No City" or stealing in "Five Fingers," he often communicates more in code. On "Fumes fumes

odorous gases and other volatile materials; inhalation of irritating fumes causes coughing and, if sufficiently severe, irreversible pulmonary edema.
," he offers a refresher on the principle of inertia without using that word, then samples a science recording to reinforce the metaphor in the song.

Another subtle reference comes in "Citronella citronella, common name for a grass, Cymbopogon nardus, the source of oil of citronella, used in perfumes and soaps and as an insect repellent. The plant, with bluish green, lemon-scented leaves, is cultivated in Java and Sri Lanka. ," when he taps the spirit of Michael Franti for one second to say the words "sea level."

Just like Williams with that Bosch painting, you keep listening to Aes and you keep hearing new things. Listen long enough and you will be deliriously uttering the words genius with bloodshot blood·shot
adj.
Red and inflamed as a result of locally congested blood vessels, as of the eyes.


bloodshot Vox populi adjective
 eyes.

Are you delirious de·lir·i·ous
adj.
Of, suffering from, or characteristic of delirium.
 with studied obsession, as Williams was on her repeat visits to Europe to see that Bosch painting? Or could Aesop be the real deal, to be studied and analyzed by students 500 years from now?

None of us will ever know, because we are living in his time. Instead, just find a comfortable place in front of this expansive, dynamic piece of work and focus on what's relevant for your life

CONCERT PREVIEW

Aesop Rock

With: Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz, Black Moth Super Rainbow Black Moth Super Rainbow is an experimental band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their music contains elements of psychedelia, folk, electronica, and pop. Their distinctive sound is characterized by analog electronic instruments including the vocoder, Rhodes piano, and Novatron.  and Blockhead with DJ Signify

Where: WOW Hall, 291 W. Eighth Ave.

When: 9 p.m. Tuesday

Tickets: $16 in advance and $18 at the door

On the Web: Listen to samples and find a link to a funny YouTube video at rgweb.registerguard.com/ticketfiles
COPYRIGHT 2007 The Register Guard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Ticket; Ian Bavitz brings a literate and intelligent approach to hip-hop
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 26, 2007
Words:733
Previous Article:Israeli musician strikes a chord with music of peace and unity.
Next Article:Church gives thanks he's not what he almost was.



Related Articles
Peace activist to speak about trip to Iran.
Johnson brings commitment, passion to Vikings' pursuit of titles.
'TEN CHI' BRINGS DREAMSCAPE IMAGES TO UCLA DANCE STAGE.
SEASON'S SCREENINGS.
Female scientists give teenagers a formula for success.
Fright '07 extends for way more than one night.
Israeli musician strikes a chord with music of peace and unity.
Church gives thanks he's not what he almost was.
Are the names God and Allah interchangeable?

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters