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Reluctant Superhero: Part Three

Aesop Rock

[Part 3 of 3]


Here is the final part of the interview with Aesop Rock ...

 

[more:]
Prefix Magazine:
What's an average day for you?

Aesop Rock:
Since about a month or two before the record came out I've been doing
interviews every day. I went to Europe; I was doing shows all summer in
Europe. Now I'm about to go on tour for six weeks.

Today I had two interviews. I was in Midtown so I bought a synthesizer
at Sam Ash. Had an interview and now you guys are here. Some days are
slow and that's good.

When it's busy, it's annoyingly busy. But when it's not, it's super
slow, and that's good or bad depending on how you look at it.

I get bored with my shit a lot. I'll be on tour for a week I'll be
like, 'All right, I'm done with this record.' I want to go home and
make a new record, but you can't really do that.

PM:
Do you listen to your records?

Aesop Rock:
Yeah, for a while. I haven't listened to it recently. But after I
mastered it and put it altogether and it was a final product, I
listened to it pretty much every day for a while, just to see what the
fuck I've done.

Now I haven't really listened to it front to back in a minute. And I
don't listen to any of the old shit. I just get really bored real
quick, and I'd rather be working on new shit all the time.

I'll listen to it after I've started doing interviews for the record
and everyone says, 'This record's so different than your last one.'
I'll be like, 'Really?' I'll go back and listen and be like, 'What the
f--." It all sounds the same to me. I can't fuckin' tell.

PM:
It does sound different. You didn't start out and decide to make it that way?

Aesop Rock:
Not at all. I didn't realize it until it was done and it got sent out
and people started telling me. Then I was like, well, probably, because
I produced most of it, that's probably a good reason. I have a
different production style than Blockhead.

It's hard for me to tell the difference between any of my shit.

PM:
Once you put the record out, is it anxiety? Release?

Aesop Rock:
No, it's just anxiety. There's no release. Any time you do anything for
public consumption you're just basically painting a target on your
face. You're open for criticism. It's weird to have a career that's
just basically open for criticism the whole time.

Sometimes people over step the boundary. They don't realize that the
record is sixty minutes of my last year and a half. So you can't really
judge my life on it. Every now and then someone will write something
that will take an angle where it's just like, 'Come on motherfucker,
what are you talking about?'

It's a little strange, but, you know, it's all part of the fun.

PM:
How tired are you of journalists poking at your record and trying to analyze it?

Aesop Rock:
Pretty tired.

PM:
How tired are you of giving interviews?

Aesop Rock:
Pretty tired. But I know it's all part of it. I recognize it's a
necessity so I do it. It's not like I hate individual journalists or
anything. I don't like the idea. It's just a weird position to be in to
have everything you do picked apart and shit on or praised. Somebody
says you're Jesus and the next person says you don't even make rap
music and it's just the worst thing they've heard.

You gotta take it all with a grain of salt. I realize it's all part of
the machine and part of what it takes for me to successfully sell a
record. But when I'm making the record I don't fuckin' care. I don't
think about the fans or the journalists or the critics or any of that
shit.

Eventually you gotta start thinking like, someone's gonna ask you your
reason why you made this record and why you made this song, and you're
like, well, I better come up with an answer.

It's overwhelming at times, but once you get your little set of fake answers down you can repeat 'em. That works pretty good.

PM:
Is Def Jux run like a democracy, or is El-P the tyrant?

Aesop Rock:
He likes to think of himself as a tyrant, and he is to a degree, but
that's my ace right there, that's my man. He signs people who he thinks
can make an album be their fucking selves, you know. He doesn't want to
hold anyone's hand through a project.

So when I did my first record for Jux, he was like, 'I don't want to
have anything to do with this. Can you just do the fucking record?' And
I was like, 'Yeah, that's what I want to do.' He was like, 'All right,
do it.'

I pick my singles, I pick my artwork, I pick what I want to do
in my videos. He'll step in and offer his opinions, but the artists
pretty much get the final say in anything. That's kind of the deal he
strikes.

He only picks people who he's a fan of and who he thinks is gonna do a
good job. He doesn't love every song, but he doesn't have to. He still
can understand and respect it. It's like, you can do whatever record
you want, because I'm a fan of you.

Of course he deals with the business shit and he's a tyrant on
that end. He has to be just in order to keep a tight ship running and
go handle whatever goes on behind closed doors as far as the record
label business goes. But as far as the creative process, he only picks
artists who he thinks can handle it by themselves.

PM:
Do you ever take that Yankees cap off?

Aesop Rock:
This is a new one, but I always have one.

PM:
What do you think about what's going on with the Red Sox?

Aesop Rock:
I don't really like the Yankees at all. I just don't watch sports. I just wear it because it's a New York hat.

The only two sports I'll ever watch are baseball and basketball, and
only if the Knicks or the Yankees are anywhere close to winning.

PM:
Ain't gonna be the Knicks for awhile ...

Aesop Rock:
Yeah, I know.

PM:
When did you move in here?

Aesop Rock:
About six months ago. It's pretty barren. I should put more shit on the walls; it just doesn't look full.

PM:
Where were you living before?

Aesop Rock:
Right before this, Bushwick for like two years. My old spot was so
fucked up. On the couch, roaches like crawled on me when I was
sleeping.

Once you live in New York City for awhile you get used to it. Even the cleanest crib will have a roach every once in awhile.

My last crib was just like, at any time of day you could sit on the
couch and spot ten roaches walking around. That shit was just not hot.
At first you were just trying to kill them all and then after a year or
two it's just like ... you win, man.

This place I just got pretty recently. I'm obviously a slob but it's a much better place.

PM:
When you were in school, were the girls all over you? I'm sure now, there's girls all over.

Aesop Rock:
I've always been quiet, but I've also always liked girls. But I was
definitely braces and acne and glasses and shit. It's the classic tale
of anyone going through junior high and through high school. I
definitely was somewhat quiet and reserved and still am to a degree.

PM:
Is it weird now when girls come up to you?

Aesop Rock:
Send 'em over. I'm not complaining. But you do that for a minute and
... I mean, girls never really get old, but some kind of substance is
definitely necessary at some point.

PM:
Has the Internet helped your career or hurt it?

Aesop Rock:
Ah, helped it, hurt it. It's pretty much done I think everything. I mean, it hurt sales like a motherfucker.

I've never had the Internet. I still don't have the Internet. I just
got my first computer last year, but I try to stay away from it.

It's good that Def Jux has a Web site, which is basically like a big
commercial for us. It let's everyone know what we're doing and who
we're signing and what albums are coming out and what the tour dates
are. But we definitely lose a lot of money.

The music industry right now is just fucked, for those who don't know.
The percentage of people who buy CDs is literally going down every
fuckin' week. It affects everybody.

PM:
Like that OutKast record sold a gazillion copies, but if it wasn't
for the Internet, it would've sold twice that. Have you heard that
record?


Aesop Rock:
I heard the Andre part, I haven't heard the Big Boi.

PM:
Feelin' it?

Aesop Rock:
I was waiting for that. I like some of it. I like what they're trying
to do, and I like the single a lot. Some of it I like and some of it is
OK. But I like them. They can do whatever the fuck they want, and I'll
pretty much be like, 'Go for it.' Whether or not I actually like it or
not is a different story. It almost doesn't matter at this point.

I just appreciate the fact that they're not fuckin' pussies. They're
not scared to do some other shit. They drop a different formula every
fuckin' record and it always gets critical acclaim. What most people
would do is just make a record that sounded like the last one because
it sold so many copies, but these motherfuckers don't care about that
shit. It's pretty admirable.

It's like, all right, you know you can sell a million copies with this
formula, but you're just gonna switch it up because you don't feel like
doing that. That's pretty cool. It's definitely rare as far as
mainstream shit.

PM:
I can't think of any other artist that switches it up as much as
them but still makes it sound like it's theirs. Maybe the Beatles.


Aesop Rock:
Yeah, they didn't sell record like that though. They do now. But
OutKast is like, out of the box, doing like a million in one week.

PM:
It might be cool though. Maybe some other mainstream artist that sell well will try to do the same thing, switch it up a bit.

Aesop Rock:
Yeah. Timbaland does some weird shit. He tries things, and his parts
always good, but he always works with the worst artists. I bet Eminem
will try to do some weird shit.

Aesop Rock - Reluctant Superhero: Part Two Platinum Pied Pipers Part 2: Because somebody has to keep this shit alive
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