If I were to casually come up to you and ask “So, do you listen to Aesop Rock?”, you’d probably reply “No, but I do like classic rock!”. After you regain consciousness and my palms stop throbbing, I’d sit you down and tell you all about an artist by the name of: Aesop Rock.

Aesop Rock is a New York-born MC who came to prominence in the late 90s and early 2000s with the rise of underground rap, through his association with the iconic Definitive Jux record label, home to other pioneering acts such as El-P and Cannibal Ox. He would go on to put out various releases, a big portion of which produced by long-time collaborator Blockhead, though he has taken to self-producing his more recent material.

His lyrical style is characterized by unconventional stream-of-consciousness rhymes which come off as anything from seemingly nonsensical to surreally profound. His vocabulary is undoubtedly vastly greater than yours and his knack for conveying simple concepts  or meaningful narratives with complex terms is unmatched (“off into the yawning blue/ the splash would mum the rocket ships” <- from the track Ruby ’81 about a little girl who falls into a swimming pool on a Fourth of July barbecue).

Last week, Aes released The Blob a half-hour long mix of unused beats he’s produced himself that he needed to get out of the way, so I thought, what better time to introduce you good people to the man’s work! And now, I present to you, precisely 10 exceptional Aesop Rock tracks, in no particular order or criteria, other than my own affinity for them, which you ought to listen to in order to truly appreciate and understand the man.

Commencement at the Obedience Academy

None Shall Pass


Save Yourself

Holy Smokes


No Regrets

The Mayor and the Crook

One of Four

Gopher Guts