Aesop Rock

It would seem that Aesop Rock is done with his first album in five years, and now he’s just making us wait…until he releases Skelethon next week and subsequently drops by The Filmore and Amoeba SF to perform the new material in his home away from home.

Back in April, the San Francisco transplant and hip-hop visionary started dropping hints about his forthcoming LP, Skelethon, the first since 2007’s None Shall Pass. It began a series of (at least) three clips where Aesop, AKA Ian Bavitz, engages in some tomfoolery with a decomposing cat, meets the Grim Reaper and shows us a somewhat coarsely made music video for “Zero Dark Thirty,” which I’m assuming is the first single off the new record. Now, this month, the wordsmith beardo can be found playing with a very alive cat and talking about yet another Skelethon track, “Leisureforce.”

The track’s name conjures visions in Rock’s mind of “a superhero team with the super power of chilling — but, like… super chilling.” Yeah.

I’m certainly excited about Skelethon, as I am convinced that None Shall Pass really upped the ante of what I expect from quote-unquote “underground hip-hop.” Sure, I love me some Del and Grouch from time to time, but I need my hip-hop production to take chances — unless it is going for some sort of retro aesthetic, like the young, Wu-referencing Joey Bada$$.

As a producer and rapper, Aesop is pushing limits, crafting beats with many moving parts, inventive melodies, off-kilter breakdowns and bizarre chord changes. Skelethon is the first album produced entirely by Aesop and features only one vocal collaborator — Moldy Peaches co-founder, Kimya Dawson.

You’d think the music underlaying “Leisureforce” was the work of some electronic-tinged indie rock band (maybe From Monument to Masses?), if it weren’t for that unmistakable hip-hop knock and Aesop’s gritty flow.

Then again, if you are familiar with Rhymesayers, this all shouldn’t be surprising. The Doomtree crew, also on Aesop’s label, recently put out a mixtape that melds rap, punk and indie in a way that I never could have imagined possible back in 2005 as I bashfully traded in my Limp Bizkit records for beer money.

I’m glad the genres could work it out.

Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic & DJ Big Wiz
The Filmore
July 15, 2012

Aesop Rock
Amoeba Records
July 16, 2012
6pm, Free