The latest release from Ian Matthias Bavitz, aka Aesop Rock, is what critics of the professional, armchair and Amazon variety are saying is already the hip-hop album of the year, a wordy blast of self-reflection amid rich and multi-textured production.
“The Impossible Kid” is a lyrically-smart, musically-deep, sonically-raw album, a dose of audio reality within a genre that at the mainstream level is a lot self-indulgence and bragging, stinking of wasted money and overproduction.
Aesop Rock will perform in Durango on Saturday at the Animas City Theatre, along with Rob Sonic, DJ Zone and Homeboy Sandman.
Like any genre, look for the artists who get tagged with the descriptor “indie” and that’s likely where you’ll find valid content worthy of further exploration. Keeping independent is also what’s kept Bavitz a respected player in the game; he chooses to steer clear of “the business,” which is perhaps the best approach to keep some integrity within your art, and keep your head above water in an industry with so many players putting out forgettable music.
“I consider my area to be the art itself. I make music; I know nothing about the music business. Luckily I have been aligned with some indie labels run by people interested in the business aspect of things, and I let them deal with all of that,” said Bavitz in an email interview. “The best route for pushing out a record changes daily, and each project could use something a little different than the last. I basically make the songs, turn them in, and say ‘What do we do now?’”
Hip-hop has always been about the lyric; and finding those words and staying fresh means keeping your ears and eyes open in a constant quest for inspiration. While “The Impossible Kid” has many moments of personal admission, whether it be lamenting about his past or his family, it’s also a very astute album full of lyrical observation that comes at the listener with the cadence and tempo of beat poetry; the characters and situations he raps about unfold in story-like fashion before your ears, whether rapping about himself, people around him, famed BBC DJ John Peel or the members of the band Ministry.
“At this point it’s a compulsion. But once I discovered the benefit of taking notes throughout the day, I started to realize how the inspiration comes from any and everywhere. You may hear something in the grocery store, or watching a movie, or a joke a friend says, or an odd conversation on the street,” Bavitz said. “The key for me is to always be open to the idea that you could hear something out there worth adapting into a lyric. Those moments when you smile to yourself after hearing something, I don’t let them pass. I write them down. Before I know it I have a long list of those moments, and putting them all together can yield something pretty potent.”