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The 30 Best Aesop Rock Songs and Collabs of All Time

When the conversation strolls into the realm of underground hip-hop royalty, you’re remiss if you don’t throw Aesop Rock’s name into the cipher. With a career that stretches back into the late ’90s, this MC has dropped tangible philosophical gems and intricate rhymes across several defining albums in the hip-hop chronicles. From “Labor Days” where Aesop hit us with the track “Daylight,” to “The Impossible Kid” offering us “Rings” and “Kirby,” or even “Skelethon” with “100 Feet Tall,” Aesop Rock has penned an anthology of tracks that speak to the dynamics of human experience. His atypical approach to storytelling, bolstered by his offbeat humor and complicated, multi-layered metaphors sets him apart in the industry.

One can’t speak of Aesop Rock without giving props to his surgical precision with lyrics, navigating complex life topics as if he were cutting through a dissection. His album “None Shall Pass” didn’t just break barriers, it blasted them with a stylish audacity that showcased a unique niche in the rap game. Even his latest work, “Spirit World Field Guide,” remains consistent in delivering an Aesop Rock experience, with jams like “Dog at the Door” and “Crystal Sword” adding to his impressive repertoire. So let’s get into it. From “100 Feet Tall” to “None Shall Pass,” here are the Top 30 Aesop Rock Songs: Best of All Albums.

30. Crystal Sword

The Indie-rap veteran lays down high voltage metaphors that beautifully personify the struggles, choices, and sense of self in his life journey. The opening line, “Carry his own water as nary a known other,” sets the stage for an individualistic path, making it clear the rapper doesn’t ride coattails; he’s a creator of his own fate. Aesop’s knack for blending the ordinary with the extraordinary breathes life into his lyrics; burning sage with ghostbusters and turning roses into solid ice speaks to his ability to straddle the line between reality and fantasy. The song explores themes of resilience, introspection, and existential angst, wrapping them in cirrus-like metaphors that float between the gaps of the known and the abstract. A powerhouse of lyrical prowess, this song makes a fierce opening for our deep dive into Aesop Rock’s discography.

29. Long Legged Larry

The song narrates the adventures of Larry, a well-liked amphibian with an incredible knack for high jumping. The storytelling mastery of Aesop Rock shines through as he weaves a narrative that intertwines humor, whimsy, and an underlining celebration of the unassuming hero. Larry is a symbol of the unexpected hero, the one who arises from obscurity to save the day. The frog’s exploits are framed against a variety of scenarios, such as saving a cat stuck in a tree, rescuing a princess, and even helping a circus poodle. Each verse creates a picturesque scene that is both hilarious and touching, as Larry’s astonishing leaps continually astonish onlookers, leaving them cheering in admiration. The refrain “Go Larry, go Larry,” underscores the feel-good energy of the track, making “Long Legged Larry” a unique concoction of fun storytelling and Aesop Rock’s signature lyrical dexterity.

28. Shrunk

We find Aesop in a psychiatrist’s waiting room, internally grappling with a myriad of anxieties and insecurities. The lyrics are peppered with cryptic allusions and metaphors, creating a sense of unease and detachment that mirrors Aesop’s mental state. He is critical of the psychiatric experience, questioning its efficacy and the ability of any outsider to truly grasp his internal struggle.

His lyrics, complex and loaded with references from a “made-up language” to the “Sudoku” of his social security number, speak volumes about his constant struggle to fit into societal norms. Aesop’s candid monologue cements the song as an emblem of his uniquely introspective brand of hip hop. “Shrunk” distills the essence of Aesop’s style, a chaotic, self-aware narrative charged with social critique and profound introspection.

27. Dog At The Door

The track delves into a heightened sense of paranoia suggesting an impending threat. This is reflective of Aesop’s vigorous and careful examination of ordinary life events, where an innocent barking of his dog at the front door transcribes into a full-on breakdown of possibilities, from a simple cat to a guy with an axe, or even a trap set by some unknown sinister force. Despite the intense conjectures, the track is rooted in humor as Aesop dismisses the possibilities as mere paranoia, eventually accepting the event could be as simple as a baby squirrel tumbling from a nest. The lyricism in “Dog At The Door” mirrors Aesop’s skill in building vivid, surreal narratives out of ordinary, mundane scenarios.

26. Dorks

The song is a blistering critique of the industry’s surface-level glitz and glamour, taking jabs at rappers who adopt a façade for mass appeal. Aesop’s razor-sharp lyrics question conformity in rap, and the vapidity of artists who game the system for fame and success without bringing any true artistry to the table. The track rattles the establishment, railing against the commodification of rap and championing authenticity over all else. Aesop’s disdain is palpable for those who view hip-hop merely as a money-making machine, a stepping stone to stardom, rather than an innate expression of struggle, resilience, and resistance. In typical Aesop fashion, the lyrics are laced with metaphors and references that challenge the listener to decipher the true depth of his messaging.

25. The Gates

A true gem from his 2020 album, “Spirit World Field Guide”, this track exemplifies Aesop’s knack for crafting surreal, abstract narratives. Aesop opens “The Gates” with a vivid imagery of a liminal space, the gates, which can be interpreted as the brink of life and death, or a portal into another plane of existence. It’s a complex ode to his own eccentricity and indomitable spirit. His verses are laced with cryptic metaphors that give a glimpse into his inner turmoil, reflecting much on isolation and marginalization. The duality he explores, representing dual aspects of love and violence, reveals an introspective and compelling outlook. Aesop’s intricate lyricism on “The Gates” paints an uncanny landscape that explores the ether of human emotions, solidifying it as an unforgettable inclusion in his discography.

24. Forward Compatibility Engine

The song engages listeners with its complex metaphors and takes them into a labyrinth of introspection. Aesop uses the metaphor of an ‘engine’ to urge listeners to persevere and push forward despite life’s hurdles. Here, the engine represents the human spirit and its infinite capacity to adapt and overcome. What makes the song standout is the manner in which Aesop explores the universal themes of resilience and adaptation through a techno-industrial lens, resulting in a unique allegorical narrative that subverts traditional storytelling norms. This song, like many of Aesop’s tracks, encourages the listener to delve into the lyrics and interpret them on a personal level, attesting to Aesop’s unparalleled gift as a storytelling maestro in the realm of hip-hop.

23. Black Snow

The hypnotic track dives deep into Aesop’s psyche, painting a grim landscape filled with black snow, an image that signifies strange happenings, evocative of life’s struggles and human resilience. This black snow, an intriguing metaphor, is woven persistently throughout the song, embodying chaos, hardship, and the unexpected. Aesop makes a poignant commentary on our material society, immersing listeners into a world riddled with cash stashed in cupboards, cluttered homes, self-inflicted struggles, and deep-seated trauma.

Moreover, his intricate wordplay sheds light on the importance of self-reliance and survival in a world marked with adversities. Aesop’s relentless pursuit of authenticity, as reflected through analogies and metaphors, sorts chaos into order, painting a panoramic view of life’s direst situations paired with an element of survival. The track’s complexity mirrors the messiness of human existence, starkly portraying the bittersweet taste of life’s trials and triumphs. “Black Snow” resonates deeply, bringing listeners on a turbulent journey of resilience and endurance.

22. Solid Gold

This track, found on his album ‘The Impossible Kid’, is a self-reflective piece that explores his own personal struggles and triumphs through surprisingly detailed storytelling. The lyrics unfold a narrative about the apparent futility of hunting for purpose and success, represented by the unattainable “solid gold”. Aesop’s wordplay paints a vivid image of his journey, navigating through the harsh realities of life. The song ultimately questions the nature of success itself, challenging the allure of material wealth and the struggle involved in its pursuit. Every bar is laced with metaphors and hidden meanings, offering listeners a chance to dissect and interpret his lyrical prowess. “Solid Gold”, in essence, is classic Aesop Rock – offering profound insights into life’s complexities through his unparalleled mastery of language.

21. Vititus

The song serves as a potent exploration of familial bonds, heritage, and intergenerational narratives. It paints a vivid picture of the artist’s grandmother (Grandma Mary) and her Lithuanian roots, combined with the stark reality of immigrant and lower-class struggle. Aesop Rock recounts memories of his grandmother’s robust presence, from her devout Catholicism to her homemade “pierogi”, a traditional Lithuanian delicacy, while smudging white Jesus decor onto an ethnic tapestry.

He contemplates the transient nature of human life, remembering relatives only through shared dinners and smoking breaks. The song reaches emotional heights with the news of Grandma Mary’s demise, leaving a void and an unfulfilled craving for those comforting dumplings. “Vititus” is a powerful exploration of memory, nostalgia, familial identity, and how cultural lineage shapes our being. Honest and heartfelt, every line of the song is a tribute, a piece of a mosaic that forms a loving image of a matriarch and her enduring influence.

20. On Failure

It’s quintessential Aesop, cryptic yet captivating, filled with dense metaphorical language that rewards those willing to dissect and decode it.

The song constructs a narrative around the concept of failure, a universal fear that binds us all. Aesop’s lyrical prowess transforms the theme into a visceral trip through self-doubt and apprehension. He doesn’t shy away from the uncomfortable, creating a sonic landscape packed full of distress and disappointment.

Through his introspective verses, Aesop invites us to engage with our own failures, making the track a unique blend of conscious reflection and emotional resonance. It’s a raw, unpolished piece that unveils the often glossed over, darker corners of the human psyche.

19. All City Nerve Map

The song paints a vivid picture of navigating and finding one’s place in urban landscapes. Aesop touches on street art, technology, and even references the Sistine Chapel while throwing jabs at intrusive surveillance. The undefined “All type a shit” chorus symbolizes the adventurer’s potluck that cruising through the city becomes, whether it’s “mashing through the mire” or “doing laps of the lost world”. He gives listeners a tour through a city’s blooms and blights, underscored by his mastery of the environment. In “All City Nerve Map”, Aesop uses his unmatched understanding of the urban psyche to create a modern-day psychogeographical masterpiece, inviting sharp listeners to decipher its layers of meaning for themselves.

18. By The River

His lyrics present a vivid picture of the calmness and unpredictability of these water bodies, and he cleverly weaves in stories of his real-life experiences. This song captures the essence of how life can be calm, turbulent, dark, and surprising, much like the rivers he describes. From drawing parallels between the school of fish and societal norms, to deep-diving into the underworld beneath the calm waters; Aesop Rock explores different scenarios and characters, offering a vibrant, yet unsettling tapestry of nature’s realities. The track carries a nostalgic undertone, hinting at his longing for old times and lost friends. The entire song plays out as a metaphorical conversation about the cyclical nature of life, the pursuit of atonement, and acceptance of the inevitable change.

17. Mystery Fish

Here, Aesop employs his distinctive lyrical style to sketch vivid, if cryptic, depictions of life on the fringes, with references ranging from social alienation to drugs and street survival. His imagery conjures up a gritty urban wasteland, a setting teeming with precariousness and decay, where “tech support, feral army” scramble for survival amid a failed societal “terra-forming.”

In true Aesop fashion, the track unfolds like a cerebral treasure hunt, with each intricate bar pointing towards disenfranchisement, power hierarchies, and the relentless pursuit of subsistence. Aesop’s sharp critique of the societal structure cuts deep, his rhymes expertly weaving tales of desolation and resilience, of characters living on leftovers, their existence deemed insignificant by the privileged.

Underneath the stark and grimy narrative, the track subtly highlights the human capacity for adaptation, resourcefulness, and grit. From repurposing anything into a makeshift pipe to finding oneself at the mercy of the ‘mystery fish,’ the track echoes a potent testament to survival, however bare and stripped-down it may be. “Mystery Fish” isn’t just a song, it’s a grim tour through society’s underbelly, bearing the unmistakable signature of Aesop Rock, the audacious architect of hip-hop’s abstract edifice.

16. Time Moves Differently Here

Aesop Rock, real name Ian Matthias Bavitz, has a knack for painting vivid mental landscapes with complex, metaphor-laden lyricism, and this song is no exception.

The piece is an introspective examination of time and personal progression, filled with cryptic metaphors and existential musings. This track takes listeners on a trip through Aesop’s mind, navigating the ebb and flow of his mental state while riffing on his past and possible futures. ‘Time Moves Differently Here’ is emblematic of Aesop’s style – intricate, intelligent, and invariably introspective.

Using his signature dense, coded language, Aesop drops metaphoric fire as he discusses the inner workings of his mind. There’s an introspective melancholy to this song, with Aesop addressing his philosophies on life and existence with poetic candor. This joint proves why Aesop Rock remains one of the genre’s most formidable lyricists.

15. Lotta Years

The song is a deep dive into the ebb and flow of time, generational shifts and the seemingly widening gap between the older and younger generations. As Aesop finds himself navigating through life, he observes the changing societal norms and cultural practices around him – including new means of expression such as tattoos and dreadlocks, advancements in technology like hoverboards and pet cloning, and the evolution of food preferences. He captures the essence of his own generational identity, characterized by traditional maps, classic music, and a distinct simplicity. The overall tone of the song is reflective and tinged with a hint of nostalgia. Aesop’s contemplative lyrics and the song’s minimalist production serve to emphasize the rapper’s lyrical prowess and thoughtfully crafted narratives.

14. The ITS Way

The multi-layered narrative draws listeners into the labyrinthine world of Aesop’s mind, using intricate language and clever references that reflect on life’s complexities. From grappling with existential dread to engaging in a socio-political commentary, Aesop weaves a tapestry of thought-provoking discourse that demands repeated listens just to peel back a single layer.

One may argue that the song, like its creator, defies conventions, pushing the boundaries of what is expected in mainstream hip-hop. It embodies elements of introspection, societal critique, and raw honesty, achieving a cognitive resonance that is unequivocally ‘Aes’. It’s not merely a song — it’s a verbal puzzle, a call to critical thought, a mental challenge demanding your full attention and contemplation.

13. Bermuda

The song is an introspective dive featuring cryptic, dense lyrics that exude feelings of paranoia and self-induced isolation. The tune itself mirrors the labyrinthine mind of the artist, filled with swirling metaphors and twisted turns. As is often the case with Aesop’s work, every verse unravels layers of meaning that dig deeper into his mindset and emotions.

A quick analysis of the lyrics reveals a narrative that is both dark and compelling. Aesop isn’t just rapping about his experiences; he’s painting a picture of emotional turmoil encased in a paranoia-filled shell. It’s a lucid commentary on the complexity of human emotion and a testament to Aesop’s lyrical prowess as he manages to convey these themes in a captivating, thought-provoking manner. In essence, “Bermuda” is a perfect encapsulation of Aesop’s unique style, and a prime example of hip-hop’s ability to provide a deep, introspective insight into the human condition.

12. Rings

In this introspective track, Aesop confronts his “used to” life, reminiscing about how he once was an avid drawer and painter. This isn’t just a leisurely walk down memory lane—it’s a turbulent journey filled with regret and lost opportunities. He examines how he abandoned his love for the arts, symbolized by drawing and painting, due to life’s unyielding pressures and his own self-doubt.

The song delves deep into Aesop’s psyche, portraying his struggles with identity and the crippling anxiety that accompanies artistic pursuits. Moreover, the imagery of the rings metaphorically represents his life experiences, signifying the passing of time and lost potential—the “rings” which are counted when a tree, symbolizing an artist here, gets cut down. Aesop Rock masterfully weaves these themes into a narrative that is fundamentally about the artist’s struggle and its personal costs, thus making “Rings” an emblematic anthem for those battling their own creative insecurities.

11. 100 Feet Tall

Eschewing the mainstream flow formula, Aes brings his signature dense, abstract style to the fore in this track. From a literal standpoint, the title might conjure images of towering physical prowess. The brilliance of Aes, however, lies in his ability to twist imagery and metaphor to fit deeper meanings that unfold with each listen. “100 Feet Tall” instead explores the feeling of standing out, of being noticeably different in a world that all too often demands sameness. This vantage point is an overwhelming burden, and Aesop interrogates the weariness and anxious adrenaline that accompany the experience of living a life perpetually in the spotlight. What’s particularly engaging about “100 Feet Tall” is the duality presented: it’s both a gloomy introspective journey and an unapologetic celebration of individualism.

10. Salt and Pepper Squid

This track is a prime example of Aesop’s ability to paint a vivid, gritty, and colorful world that his listeners can get lost in. It revolves around the concept of a simple image – it raining salt and pepper squid – which is taken as a sign that he’s “made it”. Yet, the track is far from simplistic, it’s densely packed with multi-layered lyrics that create a darkly whimsical narrative. Aesop describes a distinct urban landscape peppered with allusions to domestic scenes, vivid depictions of street life, and candid snapshots of everyday struggles. The visual potency of the lyrics is reinforced by the beats that bring a sense of foreboding yet fascinating rhythm. This song is a testament to Aesop’s ability to dissect life’s banalities and hardships, and present them in a way that’s profoundly relatable and deeply thought-provoking.

9. Aggressive Steven

We journey with Aesop, our narrator, who returns home to discover an intruder – a man named Steven—suffering from psychosis and living in his loft. This unsettling encounter sets off a cascade of actions and reactions, revealing the vulnerability of individuals like Steven who slip through the cracks of our society.

The song’s lyrics are laced with a sense of chaos and disruption, delving into Steven’s backstory of homelessness and frequent episodes of intrusion. The tension crescendos as we witness Steven’s precarious state of mind while navigating the under-resourced system meant to provide him help. The culmination of the song leaves listeners pondering the jarring reality of Steven’s situation, hitting hard on the dilemma that encases mental health issues and societal systems. Aesop Rock, true to his reputation, presents a powerful commentary on a harsh societal issue through a compelling storytelling lens.

8. Kirby

The lyrical labyrinth twists and turns, dipping into elaborate imagery that involves everything from goblins to a game of “look-it” with a panther. The song unravels as a homage to the intrepid spirit of a cat named Kirby, who Aesop Rock adopted during a rather bleak phase of his life. The pet cat became his companion and muse, inspiring this playful track. Tackling themes of loneliness, companionship, and the quirks of pet ownership, Aesop Rock reels listeners into a world where pets provide more than entertainment – they provide a sense of purpose. Full of unique rhymes and offbeat references, “Kirby” encapsulates Aesop Rock’s signature style – it’s complex, it’s poetic, it’s boldly unusual; a testament to his unparalleled lyrical prowess in the realm of hip-hop music.

7. Infinity Fill Goose Down

This track is imbued with cryptic wordplay and metaphors that explore a sense of self and existence. The song delves deep into existential themes and human nature, weaving a story of ambivalence and paradoxes that captivate listeners.

Aesop uses the metaphor of ‘goose down’, a material known for its superior insulation, to symbolize comfort and warmth in the cold, harsh realities of life. He navigates his way through skepticism and hope, painting a vivid imagery of the world around him through his abstract lyricism. There’s a consistent underlying theme, a subtext that strikes a chord about gathering warmth from moments of despair and swimming against the tide. It’s a classic Aesop joint, showcasing his lyrical prowess and ingenious word-craft, making “Infinity Fill Goose Down” an unforgettable track.

6. Pigeonometry

This joint demonstrates Aesop’s ability to weave intricate narratives around seemingly mundane themes – in this case, the oft-overlooked city pigeon. Through his sharp lyricism, Aesop gives these birds a sense of dignity and individuality that challenges listeners to reconsider their own preconceptions. He likens his artistic obsession with these overlooked creatures to Leonardo da Vinci’s fascination with his inventions, implying that artistic inspiration can be found in the most unlikely of places. Towards the end, the track takes on a somewhat self-deprecating tone as Aesop admits his initial ambition of illustrating a thousand pigeons was overly lofty. “Pigeonometry” serves as a testament to Aesop Rock’s unique ability to craft masterpieces from the mundane, making us all see the world a little differently through his eyes.

5. Daylight

This joint demonstrates Aesop’s profound vocab prowess and his eccentric production style that has ingrained him as an icon in the indie hip-hop scene. The lyrics are a poignant commentary on the human condition, cleverly wrapped up in wordplay and metaphors. Painting life as a puzzle, Aesop asserts that all he ever wanted was to ‘pick apart the day and put the pieces back together his way’, expressing a universal desire for control and understanding. His critique of society also surfaces, with barbs aimed at the hollow hustle of the American dream. Simultaneously, “Daylight” serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, pushing through the trials and tribulations of life. The complex themes are delivered with a rhythmic flow that keeps the head nodding, providing depth beyond the catchy hook. Ultimately, “Daylight” stands as a bright beacon in Aesop Rock’s discography, shining a light on the innovativeness and intellectual lyricism that defines his contribution to hip-hop.

4. Mindful Solutionism

Veering away from the braggadocio often found in hip-hop, Aesop takes us on a heady journey that traces the evolution of technologies, the positive and negative consequences they bring, and their roles in the broader socio-cultural context.

Almost like a history lesson in verse, the song kicks off with a friend defending his tribe with stone tools, catapulting us into the fast-paced world of Bronze Age, Iron Age, landing us in the realm of the Internet and AI. The lyrics present how technology shapes our lives with everything from the paradigm-shifting impact of the wheel and the fire to the disconcerting omnipresence of surveillance cameras and the proliferation of plastic.

Yet, what resonates is Aesop’s sharp critique – there’s a cautionary tone underscoring the track. He challenges us to contemplate the ethical dimensions of unbridled technological advancement, emphasizing the potential harm that can come from our creations. It’s a powerful cat, alright, but it’s worth questioning – at what cost?

3. Living Curfew

Aesop takes us through a journey of a day turning to night, set in the urban jungle where the mundane meets the surreal. Here, the day is a bustling city’s scene, filled with the vibrancy of life, bodegas radiating in golden light, and flatbush avenues drenched in nature’s stolen cable. But as the dusk falls, the cityscape takes on a whole other persona.

The night is fraught with a sense of danger, marked by howling helicopters and alarming police sirens, resembling a chaotic whirlwind. It’s a space where the wildlife scurries to feed, and every lamppost becomes a lifeline in the enveloping darkness. Yet, in the midst of it all, Aesop finds solace. He navigates through the city during these witching hours, feeling a newfound sense of power, simultaneously observing the elements that are unseen during the bustle of the day.

“Living Curfew” is a testament to Aesop Rock’s mastery of his craft, a complex urban fable that accentuates both the beauty and the darkness of city life. It’s a raw, vivid, and contemplative track that strikes a deep chord, pushing boundaries with its storytelling and tackling the ebb and flow of city life in an incomparable manner.

2. Kyanite Toothpick

This track is the epitome of Aesop’s lyrical prowess, flexing his verbal dexterity and intricate wordplay. The song is an existential showcase where Aesop spits about the trials of navigating life’s labyrinth, juxtaposing it with a daring car chase, a testament to his unique storytelling flair. He’s on that ‘keep the light meter guessing’, a metaphor about his unpredictable journey, where he’s the dark horse that keeps everyone on their toes. Peeling back layers, there’s a commentary on societal materialism, with references to the currency of ‘crystal and deconstructed Elantras’, highlighting the fickle nature of wealth. With a relentless flow, Aesop presents himself as an artful dodger against a world of ‘bullshit’, ‘pitfalls’, and ‘credit lines’, embracing the ‘good luck’ and ‘cold cash’ that life throws in his path. And true to Aesop’s style, the song ends on a note of defiance, a testament to his survival in the rap game and the broader world.

1. None Shall Pass

The strong narrative within the song begins with a vividly painted scene of modern life; portrayed as a hazardous playground where survival is an uphill battle, and maintaining authenticity is even tougher. The lyrics create a stark contrast between combat and passivity, examining the line we walk when navigating society’s expectations. Aesop’s character, while a participant in this world, observes its absurdities with a critical eye, rejecting conformism and materialism while clinging to individuality.

The hook of the song is captivating, echoing the sentiment “None Shall Pass.” This statement resonates as a declaration of resistance, an affirmation of the will of the underdogs facing the establishment’s harsh criticisms. “None Shall Pass” is Aesop at his finest, creating a complex tapestry of words that challenges listeners to think deeply about the societal norms we often take for granted. It’s a standout track that showcases his knack for storytelling, wordplay, and the art of rhyme, proving why Aesop Rock remains one of the most revered lyricists in the world of hip-hop.

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