Aesop Rock (born Ian Matthias Bavitz on May 11, 1976) is an American hip hop artist. He was at the forefront of the new wave of underground acts that emerged during the late 1990s/early 2000s. He is signed to El-P's Definitive Jux label and is a current member of The Weathermen.
After moving to the Mush label, Aesop released his first major album, Float (2000), with guest appearances from Vast Aire, Slug, and Dose One. Production was split between Blockhead and Aesop himself, with one track by Omega One.
Shortly after releasing Float, Aesop Rock signed to Manhattan-based label Definitive Jux (commonly shortened to Def Jux), where he released Labor Days, an album dedicated to the discussion of labor in American society and the concept of "wage slaves". This album was most well known for its single "Daylight." Because of its popularity, Daylight was re-released in 2002 as a 7-track EP, including an "alternative" new version of the song, "Night Light," whose paraphrased lyrics simultaneously refer back to, and stand in stark opposition to, the original's.
Labor Days was followed by Bazooka Tooth in 2003. For the first time, production was mostly handled by Aesop himself, with three tracks from longtime collaborator Blockhead and one from close friend and Definitive Jux label CEO El-P. Guest appearances include Party Fun Action Committee, El-P, and Mr. Lif (all Definitive Jux labelmates) and Camp Lo. With this release Aesop hit a higher level of recognition, releasing "No Jumper Cables" as a single and music video, then another single, "Freeze", shortly after.
In the summer of 2004, Aesop Rock appeared on the Evil Nine Single "Crooked" from the Album You Can Be Special Too, on Marine Parade records.
In February 2005, Aesop Rock released a new EP, Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives. The first pressing of the EP included an 88 page booklet with lyrics from every release from Float until this EP (the lyric booklet is titled The Living Human Curiosity Sideshow); later pressings of the album come without the booklet, but with an additional bonus track, "Facemelter". In addition, a limited number of albums were available direct from Def Jux with Aesop Rock's graffiti tag on them. In response to demands from his fans, Aesop did less production on the EP: three songs are produced by Blockhead, three produced by Aesop, and one by Rob Sonic.
Aesop Rock was commissioned to create a 45-minute instrumental track for the Nike+iPod running system, entitled All Day. It was released in February 2007. Distributed via the iTunes Music Store and featuring Allyson Baker on guitar and scratches from DJ Big Wiz, Aesop has described the release as "something that evolved enough that the sound was constantly fresh and attractive, as though the runner were moving through a set of differing cities or landscapes."
Bavitz grew up in Northport, New York and attended Northport High School. He married Allyson Baker, guitarist of San Francisco rock band Parchman Farm in 2005. They now reside in San Francisco, California. His move was a highly discussed topic in the Internet community, as he was well known for representing New York City in his work and his life.
He has tattoos on each forearm referring to the chorus of his song "Commencement at the Obedience Academy". His left arm says the words "Must Not Sleep", and the right says "Must Warn Others", quoting the line "Must not sleep; must warn others / Trust flocks creep where the dust storm hovers." The lyrics were used earlier in his song "Antisocial," in the line "Must not sleep; must warn others / I'll tourniquet your turbulence then trample on your stutters."
The "Daylight" EP contains a hidden track at the end of the disk where Aesop discusses a period of severe depression. According to the song, "In August 2001 my seemingly splinter-proof brain bone scaffolding imploded. I kept it on the hush, but nearly tumbling to the cold hard concrete on near bodega trips for cigarettes and soda shook me to casper. Dizzy with a nausea chaser, motor sensory eraser agoraphobe tunnel vision, guilt, self loathing arrangements."... Simply put: "I don't know what happened, or what's still happening, but I literally feel like I'm teetering on the blunt edge of my sanity." The song is written in dedication to four people who helped him with his problem.
Bavitz is a graduate of Boston University where he studied painting.