NEXT 100

If you get your hiphop off the internet, you've probably swiped an MP3 from New York native Aesop Rock. If you haven't, the good news is that you no longer have to. The envy of virtual mc's worldwide, Aesop has gone from being the object of chat-room gossip to being the hottest thing on wax since the 808. "This whole internet hiphop thing that's happened in the past two years is really strange," he acknowledges. "Granted, it has helped me get out there, (but) kids who have never rocked open mics or even freestyled can get their music heard. It's weird."

After killing local crowds and independently pressing his first EP, Appleseed Aesop caught the attention of web-slingers and indie label Mush Records, which released his current opus, Float. As a result, the rapper whose lyrical style can best be described as a fusion of Saafir and Kierkegaard received MC of the Year status from many underground critics. The international underground caught on too. recalling a recent interview with a European journalist, Aesop laughs. "I felt like I was at a Star Trek convention. They'd ask questions like, 'In track three, verse two, what did you mean when you said...' It's getting a little frightening."

But there's more going on with this 6'2" rapper than just rap. Equipped with the 88 weighted keys of his trusty ASR, Aesop concocts beat collages nastier than the street sewer below his Avenue A apartment. He's responsible for over half of the production on Float (assisted by up-an-comers Blockhead and Omega One), and Aesop's musical spectrum ranges from Bruce Lee soundtracks to country hoe-downs. This kind of talent doesn't go unnoticed for long.

Enter El-P, who was quick to secure Aesop's next project (tentatively entitled Labor Days and slated for summer release) for his Def Jux label. "There wasn't much negotiation," remembers Aesop, who's always been a fan of El-P's work. "He made an offer I couldn't refuse. and on top of it all, in six months I'm eligible for the Def Jux dental plan!"

But as the new project's title suggests, juggling a 9-to-5 and relationships while trying to create doesn't add up to a flashy industry lifestyle. "I haven't had the opportunity to do music leisurely. I have to squeeze being creative into the few hours I have after eight hours of work," he confesses. "It would be nice to wake up and do music. I could get one of those breakfast-in-bed trays and put my sampler on it."


Mush Records