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Five Aesop Rock Rarities You Might Have Missed

Aesop Rock stabs your rap conventions with his cutlery.

Aesop Rock stabs your rap conventions with his cutlery.

Aesop Rock | First Avenue | Wednesday, February 4
An icon of the independent hip-hop world, Aesop Rock's eclectic vocabulary has intrigued fans for so long that it's perhaps easy to overlook how prolific his output has been for over 15 years. For newer fans, starting at any one particular place in the Aesop Rock discography is daunting enough.

With the here-today-gone-today nature of the early 2000s CD-R and 2010s internet-abyss methods of music sharing, a handful of great Aesop Rock cameos and one-offs that rank among his best work have gone under-appreciated for far too long.

Here are five of our favorite Aesop Rock rarities.

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"The Tugboat Complex" (1999)
Probably the most famous song on this list in name only, Aesop Rock has continued his Tugboat Complex saga through its sequels on some of his most cherished albums. But where did it originate? The same year Aesop Rock put out his self-released debut Appleseed, "The Tugboat Complex" appeared on the Full Blown compilation Inside Out Vol. 1. For a song that's really an important linking point to the rest of his career, it's surprising that it hasn't been in-print or even in distribution for over a decade. If you've ever wanted to crack the code and condense all that's great about Aesop Rock is one track, "The Tugboat Complex" would be a solid start.


"Thorns (featuring Eyedea and Slug)" (2001)
While Aesop Rock fans are undoubtedly familiar with the track "Bent Life" from 2001's Labor Days, an original incarnation of the Blockhead produced track featured Slug and Eyedea. "Thorns," according to Blockhead, was initially scrapped due to "lack of focus." Recorded during a time when Slug and Eyedea were frequenting New York, the track was presumed lost for years until it turned up in rapper Despot's collection. Score one for hip-hop hoarders, it's pretty great to hear something new from First Born-era Eyedea.


SA Smash featuring Aesop Rock - "Love to Fuck" (2003)
Often overlooked because of his cryptic wordplay, Aesop Rock can be a pretty funny dude. While many Def Jux fans at the time didn't quite know how to react to SA Smash's Smashy Trashy album, the late Camu Tao's magic still resonates on the record and in recent years, it has become a cult classic. While Aesop Rock's expressed and been a part of many touching sentiments since Camu's passing, 2003's "Love to Fuck" showed how much fun they, along with fellow SA Smasher Metro (who fans may recognize as the smack-talk to 2005's "Fast Cars") could have in the studio.


Grimace Federation - "Bosico (Butchered by Aesop Rock)" (2010)
When Aesop Rock launched his 900 Bats website as an medium-arching resource for creative endeavors in 2010, the first track we got from him was his "Butchering" of Grimace Federation's song "Bosico." Also the first time we got to hear Aes spit in quite a while, notably his first track since Definitive Jux folded the previous February, "Bosico" reminded us that Rock is still one of the most compelling hyper-creative minds in the game.


"Zero Dark Thirty (Blockhead Remix)" 2012
As well received as Aesop Rock's entirely self-produced Rhymesayers debut Skelethon was, longtime fans still have a soft spot for Rock's collaborations with longtime producer Blockhead. Responsible for "Daylight," "No Regrets," and "None Shall Pass," these two can't help but make gold. That's why fans who digitally pre-ordered Skelethon were overjoyed to hear Blockhead's take on "Zero Dark Thirty." As energetic as the original was, Blockhead injects the track with a much different dosage of ghostly funk, making it a track you could downright boogie with.

Aesop Rock. With Rob Sonic and DJ Abilities. Opener: Homeboy Sandman. 18+, $17/$20, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 4. Tickets.

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