Tonight I walked into a venue I’ve been frequenting since the age of 14 to see a hip hop act I had only heard about through friends. I got there to catch one of the opening acts (LA native BusDriver) who had one of the strangest and most epic lyrical flows I’ve heard in a long time. I want to liken him to Busta, but even stranger. That being said I was feeling a little bit skeptical about how Aesop was going to sound. I had heard good things about Aesop Rock throughout the years but I really can honestly say that what I saw tonight was great. First off, the guy’s flow is fantastic, his stage presence was playful and dead serious all at once, and his comrades Rob Sonic and DJ BigWiz knew what the fuck was up. I have to say what I appreciated most about the performance was the obvious and intentional respect that the artists displayed for hip hop music and its culture. BiWiz’s use of break beats along with Aesop and Rob’s call-and-response crowd pleasing style spoke to the roots of hip hop. Aesop and Rob even faded back at one point to allow BigWiz to have a solo DJ set in which he conjured up two separate beats on the spot (they were dope by the way). Its not all the time that three white dudes enter a space as hip hop artists and pay homage to the roots of that culture, and I really appreciated that.
Something that set this performance apart from other shows I’ve seen across all musical genres was the level of commitment Aesop and his crew brought to each song. They played for an hour and a half and never stopped totally bringing it. By the end of the show Aesop had more crotch sweat than I have ever seen in my life, which, to me, seems a testament to his commitment on stage.
The group performed a number of songs off of Aesop’s newest album Skelethon as well music from the early 2000’s. The encore super funky and consisted of “No Regret”, “Daylight/Nightlight" from the Labor Days album, which were definite crowd-pleasers. In the middle of the show, they called up a member from the crowd and had BusDriver come out from backstage. They then proceeded to rap while BusDriver gave this poor guy one of the worst haircuts I’ve ever seen. It was, I thought, a really cool way to make the show interactive. I can now see why Aesop fans are so diehard. Speaking of Aesop fans, I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed (first-hand) such a diverse group of people come together out of love for an artist. I swear at least a third of the people attending were juggalos, a bunch of them were white rastas, a lot of them looked really young, and a lot of them were kind of old.
At the end of the night, I left the Roseland feeling buzzed off of the energy that Aesop and his crew fed us. I wanted more and when I got back to my apartment I listened to “Daylight” on repeat. I’m listening to it now, in fact. Bottom line, Aesop Rock is for real, from his flow to his energy to his commitment to making solid hip hop music.