Aesop Rock conducted by Saadiq  

Aesop Rock

March 2002

These are the transcripts of an interview with Aesop Rock. The interview was conducted by Saadiq, early 2002.

Aesop Rock is a well known artist who has worked with the likes of El-P, Cannibal Ox, Slug and many more artists.

MVRemix: For all the heads who don't know who you are could you introduce yourself?

Aesop Rock: Hi, my name is Aesop rock. I'm 6 foot 4" and I weigh two hundred pounds like whoa.

MVRemix: Ok, boring stuff first; how did you fall into your respective crafts (emceeing and producing).

Aesop Rock: I started freestyling with friends about eight or nine years ago. I started writing also around the same time, but didn't meet blockhead until about '94. I started making beats not until about '96.

MVRemix: Can you explain the reasoning behind your name?

Aesop Rock: I acquired the name Aesop from a movie I had acted in with some friends. It was my characters' name and it sort of stuck. The rock part came later just from throwing it in rhymes.

MVRemix: Who would you say are your influences both lyrically and style wise as an MC?

Aesop Rock: I used to listen to PE, BDP, KMD, Run DMC, all the dope shit. Nowadays cats around me mostly influence me. The kids I rhyme with nowadays are the best emcees I know of.

MVRemix: I've played your album Float to many friends and a common reaction is that many people can't seem to work out the subject matter in your songs. Are you worried that your lyrics might be going over people's heads and your message being lost?

Aesop Rock: Not really. If I worried about what cats were gonna think every time I was writing I would have to constantly compromise my shit. I just write what I want to say. Some cats don't get it, some do. Nobody's brain thinks in perfectly aligned messages anyway. I try to write how i think.

MVRemix: Who would you say your production influences are?

Aesop Rock: I like many different styles. I like blockhead's - the producer on most of my projects, and I think we influence each other. I like El-P's shit. It's different and it really gets in you. Outkast's got ill beats. DJ Premier. Cryptic.

MVRemix: Why is Hip Hop production is general so lame now? Why have people stopped putting in the effort to actually put some arrangement into their songs? These days everything on the independent scene sounds the same with tracks being reduced to a repetitive loop that stays the same for 5 minutes as opposed to something that is vaguely enjoyable to listen to.

Aesop Rock: Yeah a lot of shit is boring now. We try to make shit change a lot. Even if there is a main loop a beat has to have breaks, different instruments, etc. Its got to build and relax in order to make a complete song. I like loops, don't get me wrong. Sometimes it works. I think the main problem today is too many cats try to compose shit with keyboards and such without knowing how to play instruments. They end up with some boring ass composition. Kids should stick to sampling more.

MVRemix: These days it seems that everyone who makes Hip Hop seems to be just into Hip Hop and nothing else. Are you inspired by other types of art like literature, cinema or other forms of music?

Aesop Rock: I went to school for painting. I like artwork. I love movies too. It all seeps in somehow whether I want it to or not. I don't read that much, but I guess I should. I have reached a point where I don't have enough time to explore new music as much as I want to, but I can appreciate any type of music if it's dope. Except country music. That shit is never dope.

MVRemix: How do you feel about how Hip Hop seems to be go in cycles and trends. Afro centricity seemed to be the trend in the late 80s and early 90s, now with the wave of artists like Mos Def and Common and The Roots we now have the neo soul movement. How do you feel about that?

Aesop Rock: Afro centricity will always be in Hip Hop, because Hip Hop was created by black people. I think shit won't go in circles anymore because you got so much shit out there. People are doing so many different things. Writing songs about so much shit. It's gonna make the circle obsolete, because soon, every aspect will be present at all times.

MVRemix: How would you say you have developed/evolved as an artist/emcee/producer since the first project you did with Blockhead?

Aesop Rock: We been working together for so long and have done so many songs before ever trying to release anything. We have old 4-track songs coming out our ears. We both seem to grow with each other as time goes on. I got to keep up with him and vice versa. It's cool. We grow in different directions sometimes and it causes us to come up with some weird sounds.

MVRemix: Despite the fact that a lot of the material on your album 'Float' was at least a year old where you still pleased with the end result?

Aesop Rock: Some of it. I'd take some shit off there if I could. Overall it's cool I guess. It's my first release on any label that we didn't try to put out ourselves, so it's got a place in history.

MVRemix: How would you describe your sound?

Aesop Rock: Yagfu Front meets Lee Oskar.

MVRemix: What would you say you were trying to achieve with your music?

Aesop Rock: I'm just trying to vent.

MVRemix: Your follow up to 'Float' on Def Jux is called 'Labor Days.' How do you feel about your latest project?

Aesop Rock: I like it. It's angry. Grrrrr. I think it's better then 'Float.' It sounds like we grew, and we have, so I'm glad that came across.

MVRemix: What was it like being on Def Jux?

Aesop Rock: Def Jux is comprised of my favourite Hip Hop artists out now, so what else can I say. Everyone has different styles. Mr. Lif is the dopest live performer I've seen in a while. Cannibal Ox is sick. El-P is ridiculous. Everyone has different shit and it feels really positive. I think kids are feeling it too, so it makes me feel good about where I'm at.

MVRemix: Many emcees including yourself have stated how you can't see yourself rhyming at the age of 40 and beyond. Why is it emcees don't see themselves rhyming beyond a certain point whereas musicians and producers wanna continue making music as long as they live.

Aesop Rock: I do want to make music for as long as I live. Hip Hop is just so young, so the idea of a 40 year old mc is strange to everyone right now. But if I still feel it I'll keep doing it. I mean there are some cats out now that are getting up there and still making records. Maybe it will be like jAesop Rockz, and cats will be rhyming at 60. It would be dope. Regardless, I want to keep doing music forever.

MVRemix: Who are you bumping in your stereo these days?

Aesop Rock: My friends. The new Atom's shit. Weightless crew. I like that new Cappadonna single a lot. The Can Ox album is on serious rotation right now.

Related content:
  • Mr. Lif 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Cage 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Aesop Rock 2002 Interview by Saadiq
  • Vast Aire 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • S.A. Smash 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Aesop Rock 2006 Interview by Alex Goldberg
  • Mr. Lif 2006 Interview by Alex Goldberg
  • Mr. Lif 2006 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • El-P 2007 Interview by Josh Potter

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