"I live on the second floor
my name's Aesop Rock
but you can call me Bazooka Tooth."
A boom-bap away from Suzanne Vega's "Luca"-a song about physical abuse-Aesop Rock's fabled surrealistic style captures the abuses of a competitive society. His vengeful version of Luca is Bazooka Tooth, also the title of his recent LP.
"[He's] this little stressed-out superhero alter-ego that doesn't really have many super powers at all-just has, like, a gun in his mouth and just can kinda blow shit up," explains Aesop. "He'd probably get his ass kicked by most of the other superheroes, but he can handle the [nemesis] really in a matter of seconds."
The Luca reference comes from the freestyle cipher between Aesop Rock, C-Rayz Walz and Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox on the Definitive Jux DVD, Revenge of the Robots. It captures the spirit of both the label and the culture of hip-hop.
Former Company Flow member and Definitive Jux CEO, El-P, has created not only a successful independent record label, but also an environment which maintains a personal and professional interest. The company is its own union, which includes the aforementioned artists as well as RJD2, Mr. Lif, Murs, S.A. Smash, PFAC, and the recently inked Rob Sonic from Sonic Sum.
"These are all the people that I kinda would kick it with regardless of music, and we all just happen to be brought together under the same canopy," says Aesop. "I definitely feel pretty grateful that I have this weird little network of trust. I think it kinda doesn't exist in many other labels."
The situations in his music are meticulously cryptic, and often require more dedication to decode than attempting to beat Pac-Man on acid. Bazooka Tooth's psychedelic shanty "The Greatest Pac-Man Victory in History" details a friend's success at doing just that. Aesop molests "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" in his second verse as he delivers a continuous LSD acronym: "Little soldiers develop like serpents despite life sentence, stubborn lemmings/some don't like sobriety's dirty lenses, some do..."
Sobering images flash across his music like so many pixels on his affectionately named "idiot box" screen. One specific recurring subject is 9/11.
"It was a pretty surreal day," Aesop reflects. "I'm sure it was surreal for anywhere in America, but when you wake up and there's black smoke over your city, it's a little weird.... It is what everyone says it was, which was just a major reality check on how fragile shit is around you. It was definitely a strange fucking day to be outside."
This statement is potent to the CityBeat readership, our own skies choked with smoke not too long ago.
Aesop's loyal fan base and the press fan the flames of his fame, but he's not a big fan of interviews.
"It's pretty irking," he says plainly, free of complaint. "It's definitely not my favorite part of all this by a long shot.... I don't think any artist ever feels fully, correctly represented in any interview or review ever. Y'know, it's impossible just cause you sit with me for what 20 minutes or a half hour.... It's just a little weird to be in a position where you're constantly open for critique as opposed to just kinda being hidden away somewhere where you just make your money without having anybody know even what the fuck you do or who you are, which has its own little brilliance to it.
"Luckily I'm able to kinda at the end of the day still just kinda have these people that sorta are going through the same shit and we can kinda all escape it together." ©
Aesop Rock performs at the Epicentre on Dec. 14. 858-271-4000.