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Aesop Rock

photo: Chrissy Piper

For nearly a decade Aesop Rock repped New York while being an integral artist on the indie-rap powerhouse Definitive Jux.

Still recording under the Def Jux imprint, he now resides in San Francisco with his wife of three years. As he and his fans acclimate to his San Francisco home-base, the artist retains his style while incorporating his work with his new western acquaintances. Rock released The Next Best Thing, a collaborative book and 7” record with SF artist Jeremy Fish, and Fish contributed the artwork for Rock’s latest LP, None Shall Pass.

Kaffeine Buzz: Are you still in SF? If not, how has the move from NY treated you, and has it had an effect on your lyrical/musical inspirations?

Aesop Rock: I am still living in SF. It’s been interesting. I find it really relaxing, maybe because it’s still somewhat foreign to me. Even after 3 years I can still get lost pretty easily, and I guess I find some comfort in that. I guess being around less people that I know has affected my music, though I don’t know if it’s because it’s SF or because it’s simply not home. Either way it’s been a fun experiment. I’ll head back east eventually.

KB: You worked with Jeremy Fish on The Next Best Thing, and he contributed art to None Shall Pass. How did you two meet, and do you have plans to keep working with him on projects in the future?

AR: Jeremy was one of the first people I met when I moved out west. We had a mutual friend, and were put in touch because, at the time, Fish was asked to pitch a cartoon to Disney and wanted to know if I’d like to be involved in doing some music. We were mutual fans, and while the cartoon didn’t pan out, it was a good reason for us to say “hell lets just do some other shit together.” He’s a good dude. We think alike in many aspects and I feel like I recognize where he’s coming from in his work. It is familiar to me for some reason, his characters, and this odd world he creates. In many ways I can draw comparisons to the way I write. We’ll definitely do more work in the future in several capacities I imagine.

KB: I saw you at a screening of the graffiti film “Quality Of Life” when it came out a couple years ago. It’s a SF-based story about a very NY subject. What’s your take on the graf scene and have you ever been involved in it?

AR: Ha, yeah i saw that in SF, actually with Fish. I have always been a huge fan of graffiti. My friends and I used to write a bit, but we weren’t really any good. I was more a fan. Used to take pics on the LIRR, and go into NYC when i was younger to take graf flicks, and learn the names, who had what style, etc. I just loved it cuz it was a mystery to me. I loved the idea of these cats dippin’ in and out of dark place at night for nothing other than to wreck shit and get nice. It’s still something I look at always. Once you start peeping shit when you’re young you kinda can’t not look at it. If it’s there your eye picks it up.

KB: Who do you consider stand-out indie rappers in SF? And in NY?

AR: Well in the bay, not necessarily SF, I’ve always loved casual. Even though he’s somewhat of a legend already he tends to be criminally slept on. I like Zion I, they got some shit. Always loved Saafir. In NY, I really think my crew is killing it… Is that a bad answer? Fuck it. Cats like Cage, El-P, Breeze, WM, these dudes are amazing. Rob Sonic is majorly slept on, and is an amazing lyricist.

KB: We are also covering Tokyo Police Club for the Treasure Island Festival, whom you worked with on the ‘Baskervilles’ remix for LiveAmp. How did that collaboration come together? Can we expect to see you perform the song together in September?

AR: Well I didn’t directly work with them. Amp is a friend and a really talented dude, and we’ve been meaning to do some more work together. I did a song with him on a Zion I album, and we’ve always spoken about doing more. He occasionally takes on these remix projects and this time around all the timing fell into place. He hit me about the remix and it sounded dope, sent over the beat, I knocked it out, Yak did his part, and that was that. I liked how amped flipped it and I love being a part of these kinda quicker, promotional projects that being people together like that. I don’t even know if TPC ever heard it, or know who i am.

Aesop Rock is currently touring in support of None Shall Pass and will perform at the Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco on September 20.


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