Quantcast
metroactive logo

Aesop Rock’s New Album is Lyrical Therapy

In Music
OVER THE HILL: Aesop Rock, who recently turned 40, recorded his 
seventh album, ‘The Impossible Kid,’ in a barn in Washington.

OVER THE HILL: Aesop Rock, who recently turned 40, recorded his seventh album, ‘The Impossible Kid,’ in a barn in Washington.

Plenty of people dread their 40th birthday, but according to Ian Bavitz—better known by his stage name, Aesop Rock—the idea of being “over the hill” was particularly distressing.

“Being an older dude in a younger dude’s game, it just loomed,” the indie emcee and producer says. “I think it caused a lot of reflection, and had me thinking of things I hadn’t thought about it forever. I’m still working on everything—I’m a mess in many ways. Things don’t really ever magically smooth out and become easy. It just seems like everyone loses their minds forever and then we die.”

To anyone familiar with the New York-born musician, this train of thought will come as no surprise. Aesop Rock is known for ping-ponging from absurdist pop-culture references, to philosophically astute observations and then wrapping things up with a punchy, existential lamentation.

He’s also earned a reputation for having a voluminous vocabulary. In 2014, a data scientist even determined that Aesop used more words over the course of his first five studio albums than Shakespeare did over the course of seven plays.

Aesop recently dropped his seventh studio album, The Impossible Kid, and is slated to play The Catalyst in Santa Cruz on May 10. He wrote the lyrics and produced the beats all while living in a cabin in Washington, where he says he moved in order to get away from it all. Previously, he’s lived in New York and San Francisco—or, as he puts it in a promotional video for the new record, “I moved from the most expensive city in the U.S. to the other most expensive city in the U.S. and something had to give, honestly.”

The rapper says that he immediately recognized the offer to live and work in the barn—which came to him by way of a friend—as a unique opportunity.

“I recognized it was a romantic concept on it’s own,” he says. “Go to the woods and make music—cool. I might not get that chance again. It was about seeing what I could do in a space like that.”

Aesop ended up looking back—on episodes from his childhood, for example, as well as lamenting the fact that he didn’t pursue a career as a visual artist. Both of those themes are covered on The Impossible Kid’s lead single and second track, “Rings.”

“I used to draw—hard to admit that I used to draw,” he spits on “Rings,” before coming to rest on the biting chorus, where he repeats: “They will cut you down just to count your rings.”

It’s a song about regrets and the perspective age affords, Aesop explains. “I was talking about how, in relation to my artwork, I had heart and loved it all, but maybe never had the confidence and skill to really be a leader in that arena,” he says. “It takes more than heart to be a leader, because there’s always someone out there ready to be the man. I think people are inherently pretty cruel. Not everyone, but I guess from my experiences, you can never really count on others out there to do the ‘good’ thing.”

On the whole, the album feels a lot like one giant therapy session, in which Aesop is acting as both the patient and the shrink—identifying problematic behaviors, looking back on past mistakes, sussing out his neuroses and then working to move beyond them.

“I’m just trying to find some stability, and a solid support system that understands me,” he says. “It’s an endless quest to feel accepted.”

Aesop Rock
May 10, 8pm, $18-$22
The Catalyst, Santa Cruz

Back to top