Wednesday, January 23, 2008

aesop rock @ southpaw, 1/22/08 (myspace secret show)

well, i couldn't feel my fingers or toes by the time we got in, but we got in. boo-fucking-yah. i won't bore you with stories about the line or the security (is it always like that in park slope? i had to prove my camera was a camera!), and cut straight to the chase: great fucking show. i'd never seen aesop rock before, and have always wanted too, especially since the moste excellent none shall pass was released last year. def jux's biggest star pulled out all the stops for the ├╝ber-intimate myspace secret show at southpaw, giving love to the crowd and spitting verses til he was out of breath, bringing mad guests on...a really great show that was even sweeter because it was free.

naturally, def jux was in the house, and aes corralled labelmates hangar 18 as openers, who proclaimed themselves "rap's best interracial group" by way of an introduction. funny thing is, they might be right (also, it's not exactly a packed category). a party rap crew like the beastie boys (but with more flavor), hangar 18 is dirty, funny, and a hell of a good time. at one point during the set, mcs wind and alaska took a quiet moment to tell the crowd about some serious shit going down, and how we live in hard times, when there are two major issues we all need to take seriously - trapped in the closet and drinking. book these guys for your frat house right now. with their slick, joking rhymes, they seemed the odd man out in the def jux stable - a critically minded label known best for the acerbic rhymes of aesop rock, labelhead el-p, or whiz kid cage (when was the last time you heard some serious discourse about bitches and barhopping?) - but they were fun and definitely got the crowd going. also, they sampled "jump on it," which was pretty funny.

"baking soda"
buy sweep the leg from definitive jux.

"take no chances"


there was virtually no between-set downtime, which was awesome - aesop rock, rob sonic, and dj big wiz hit the stage maybe ten minutes after the departure of hangar 18 to deafening cheers, opening with none shall pass's first track, "keep off the lawn." though his eyes were half closed, aes was fucking spot on, nailing verses and really bringing his songs alive, adding callbacks and chants that kept the crowd involved. rob sonic, aes rock's compatriot and producer of "dark heart news," was his cheerleader, adding another voice to his raps and finishing his verses, and the two working in perfect tandem. in a myspace blog post written right after the show, aesop rock said "rob sonic and wiz, of course, were on point. we're like 3 massive peas in an even larger pod at this point. a hip hop pod."

unsurprisingly, aes performed most of the tracks from none shall pass, including killer versions of "39 thieves," "dark heart news," and "bring back pluto." the biggest applause, however, was reserved for his older work - a reworked version of "no regrets," from labor days, which cut its normal running length of 5+ minutes to under 3, and encore "daylight" were probably his biggest hits of the night. not one to hog the mic, aes gave rob sonic two turns in the spotlight, who busted two joints from last year's sabotage gigante. dj big wiz also had a solo turn, building a beat from scratch as aes and rob took a breather. throughout the night, the two mcs teased us, telling us about the special guests waiting backstage, but i don't think anyone guessed how many there were. el-producto came out with a brand new mustache to do a track from i'll sleep when you're dead, battling through the flu to deliver the goods, which was fucking awesome, but the best hadn't come yet. asking "does anyone here like freestyles?," aes dropped a few verses before slug (from atmosphere) walked out. then el-p returned, followed by yak ballz and despot ("world's tallest rapper"), who is one of def jux's most recent signees. they all busted dope rhymes and despot climbed on rob sonic's shoulders, and it was clear they were having as much fun as we were. aesop rock finished with "coffee," which the crowd had been hollering for all night, a fitting end to a great (free) night of music. thanks myspace!

"dark heart news (feat. and prod. by rob sonic)"
buy none shall pass from definitive jux.

"no regrets (remix)"

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