Fists of Fury | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Fists of Fury 

Bay Area rapper Aesop Rock turns a music video into an action flick

Although he was still recording, for the past few years Aesop Rock shied away from headlining his own albums. But with the 2012 release of Skelethon and a recent appearance at Coachella, Aesop has returned full-force. The tenor of his furious rhymes and flow is a throwback to the rap of '90s groups like Mobb Deep and Dilated Peoples, and his early influences Public Enemy and Run DMC. Backed with dark rock and thundering bass, these tracks also are a throwback to '80s post-punk; as a teenager growing up in Long Island, he has explained that his older brother introduced him to bands like Dead Kennedys, Fugazi and Ministry.

We caught up with the now-San Francisco-based, towering (6 foot 4!) 36-year-old Aesop Rock—born Ian Bavitz—and asked about his action-packed "ZZZ Top" film, directed by Peter Lee, and his boy-next-door senior yearbook picture.

TS: On the surface your senior yearbook picture makes you look very straitlaced.

Aesop: While I'm sure your senior year book picture is a direct reflection of who you truly were and would become, my school pics tended to be a reflection of what my mom wanted me to look like on school pic day. My youth was spent skating, drawing and painting, working on music, and fucking up in school.

I really like the video for "ZZZ Top." It's like something scooped off the cutting room floor of a Kill Bill movie. How much input did you have into its direction and vision?

I met the director, Pete Lee, on a previous shoot. We came up with the idea to make a short film, and have the music be the score. Pete had this particular plotline in his head for some time, and once it was on paper we sculpted it into something that we could all pull off.

Did you ever get in there and mix it up with those stunt fighters?

I spent long hours with them every day. They had to teach me the proper way to fake getting smacked with a bat. 

The real star of the video is Patti Li. She is remarkable. In the video, she fends off an attack from a group of thugs attempting to beat information out of her character. Li picks off her assailants one by one, leading to the final duel, where she slings daggers at a bat-toting villain played by MC Zumbi of the rap duo Zion 1. I had to look her up. Her real name is Hao Zhihua. She has won six gold medals in Chinese national championships! Now she lives in Berkeley. That's wild.

She's absolutely inspiring beyond words.  Her entire story is fascinating. She has many accolades in the martial arts world from her time competing in Beijing. 

Do you see a big difference between club/gangsta rap and your brand of hip-hop?

Yes and no. Ultimately it's all just people doing the songs that make them happy. I guess I could pick apart the differences, but a lot of that seems to be something people do for the sake of arguing. I like a lot of different styles of rap, and I know what I do isn't for everyone.  

Were you inspired by artists further away from your generation or people who were big when you were a teenager?

I'd say both. You obviously wanna stay up on what's new and underground and cutting-edge, but at the same time I liked dipping back into a generation before me to see the groundwork laid by the pioneers of the genre and incorporate some of that into what I do.

Aesop Rock

9 pm Saturday, April 27

The Domino Room

51 NW Greenwood Ave.

Tickets $20 at or Ranch Records

About The Authors

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...
Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Triple Whammy

    Triple Whammy

    Eric Leadbetter helps bring joy to the music scene, food industry and hospital workers with the St. Charles Meal Mission
    • Jun 1, 2020
  • Life in the 'Badlands' ▶ [with video]

    Life in the 'Badlands' ▶ [with video]

    Casey Parnell's debut solo album is set to the background of nature
    • Jul 29, 2020
Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Sleepless Truckers

Sleepless Truckers - General Duffy's Waterhole

Fri., Aug. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews

  • Shireen Amini Breaks Free

    • Jul 28, 2021
    The Bend artist releases a vulnerable and empowering album that celebrates finding the joy in being yourself More »
  • "Shoot The Moon"

    • Jul 21, 2021
    Jeshua Marshall's new single is the first step toward the Redmond musician's debut solo album this fall More »
  • Artist Fact Sheet: Madison Cunningham

    • Jul 14, 2021
    The Grammy-nominee heads to town for a Sisters Folk Festival show More »
  • More »

More by Ethan Maffey

More by Phil Busse

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation