Aesop Rock (Ian M. Bavitz) is an American-born Alternative Hip Hop artist. Aesop has been releasing music since 1997 when he released the self-financedMusic For Earthworms. After another self-released album he signed to Mush Records and released Float. Shortly after, he signed to El-P's Def Jux label, where he has since released a slew of succesful albums, including his most well-known album Labor Days, a concept album. When Def Jux went on indefinite hiatus, Aesop transferred over to Rhymesayers, current home of such artists as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, and Rob Sonic. Aesop Rock's lyrics are made up of absurdist metaphors, puns, imagery and pop culture and mythology references.Not to be confused with new-school street rapper A$AP Rocky.Discography
Heroic Dog: The song "Ruby '81" is about a dog that saves the titular Ruby from drowning.
I Have Many Names: Most are shootoffs of "Aesop Rock", Aes Rizzle, Aes Diesel, Aes Rock, Aes, the notable exception is Bazooka Tooth, who may or may not be a character he plays.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Much of his older work would've been lost if not for a few dedicated fans. Further, many unreleased tracks are featured only on hard-to-find mixtapes. The most notable of said mixtapes being Rarities & B-Sides: Volumes 1 & 2. His first two albums (Music For Earthworms and the Appleseed EP) are less extreme examples.
His collaborations with Mojo the Cinematic and Overgrounder fall under this too.
Lost Episode: The original "Night Train" cypher—one of the very first recordings Aesop ever showed up on—is considered lost for good. An edited version shows up on Music for Earthworms, itself difficult to find.
Meaningful Name: Subverted he's not named after the philosopher (though he easily could be), his name is a character he played in an "art film" once, plus the suffix "Rock" because it's cool.
Mind Screw: Usually subverted, but "Water" definitely counts, it seems to be a political message, but even keeping in mind Aes' usual metaphors, it doesn't make much sense. The sampling of some sort of opera only serves to make it worse.
"Mars Attacks" could arguably be worse, the basic plotnote Bazooka Tooth, the album's main character, witnesses an alien invasion of Earth in general, and New York in particular. He decides to lead a resistance movement to oust the aliens, and ends up making it onboard their ship, the Alien Mother gives him a Reason You Suck Speech. He attempts to kill the Alien Mother anyway, and is shot in the face by the Royal Guards, his crew is defeated, and Mars Wins is pretty understandable after a few listens, but what it means, and what the second part are about is anyone's guess.
Mundane Made Awesome: "Fryerstarter" basically equates going to a donut shop (a specific one, San Francisco's Bob's Donuts) to a religious experience.
One of Us: Often references anime, comic books, 80's movies, and video games.
the lyric about someone carving "ZoSo" in his desk is a Led Zeppelin reference
lines referring to "renegades of funk" and "that planet-rocking Bambaataa" are both references to Afrikaa Bambaataa
"9 to 5er's Anthem" quotes the opening lines of "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton.
Story Arc: There are a couple, most notably the saga of Bazooka Tooth, a bumbling lowlife.
Take That - Quite a few, but they're usually hidden among as many layers of metaphor as everything else, making it hard to tell who he's take thatting against.
"We're Famous" with El-P is one against rapper Esoteric.
"Facemelter" is an epic bitchslap against people who have accused him of just spitting gibberish, it's capped off with one of the simplest lines of Aesop's entire career.
If you hate me you can eat a bag of dicks.
The last verse of "Gopher Guts" is a devastating Take That against himself.
Word of God: This is the only way you will ever know for sure what any given song is about, and he's not fond of talking about such things, leading to Shrug of God.
Notably that last part is averted with the most recent album, thanks to the Behind Skelethon video series on Youtube.
Word Salad Lyrics: His lyrics can come off as this to the uninitiated, due to Aesop's playfulness when it comes to prose and diction; if there's a more roundabout or extravagant way of saying something relatively simply, he'll go that route. However, he insists that his lyrics always have a meaning and that he's not just stringing together nonsense.