Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz, Yak Ballz, Luckyiam | The Abbey | Hip-Hop | Chicago Reader

Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz, Yak Ballz, Luckyiam Critic's Choice Soundboard

When: Sat., Aug. 23, 9 p.m. 2008

A lot of the fat’s been trimmed out of the backpack rap scene in the past few years. The explosion of 2000, when hip-hop fans discovered a bunch of stoned white dudes who could rhyme in meter in a way that didn’t make you embarrassed to be white—I mean, like, more embarrassed than usual—those days are long gone. The four biggest names from back then are the only ones anyone still follows. Aesop Rock started out as the white Slug, except rapping about squirrels wearing seat belts instead of sadness and vaginas. A half-dozen releases later, though, he’s way more linear and entirely his own man—his flow isn’t so vertigo inducing and he raps about girls and life. His latest, last year’s None Shall Pass (Def Jux), rests on dark, gorgeous production, moody and expansive—with its infinite sub-bass and clubby comedown, it’s like a Massive Attack record. Aesop is kind of the last guy you’d expect to get this from, but he captures the contemporary American bummer-zeitgeist and gently stomps its head till it pops. 18+. —Jessica Hopper

Price: $20

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