Born: In Northport, N.Y., in 1976.
Sounds like: An unexpectedly—then unbelievably—skilled busker/rapper/poet on some bygone New York street corner.
For fans of: Buck 65, Atmosphere, Eyedea & Abilities, El-P, Sleep, Cloudy October.
Latest release: Aesop Rock hasn't released any new solo material since 2007's None Shall Pass, his fourth full-length, which found the MC pitching absurdly dense lyrics spread thick on classical- and jazz-rich beats. The rapper is currently touring in support of Are You Gonna Eat That?, the debut album from Hail Mary Mallon, a collaboration with his former labelmates Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz.
Why you care: Ian Bavitz, a.k.a. Aesop Rock, is a man with a lot on his mind. Since he rode the underground rap wave of the late '90s and early aughts to notability, the Long Island-born MC has dropped four LPs and several singles—each of which, as anyone who's heard an Aes track can attest, is worth at least a thousand words. Collaborating with veteran producer Blockhead, Bavitz has also developed a consistent signature sound, but it's Aes' rhymes that take center stage. From opening strains to fading notes, the rapper flows almost nonstop—not rapid-fire, but with an engaging urgency and a characteristically brooding tone—on material that ranges from very dark to deliciously sardonic.
SEE IT: Aesop Rock plays the Wonder Ballroom on Friday, June 10, with Kimya Dawson. 8 pm. $18-$20. All ages.