Aesop Rock 2.jpg

Photo by Ben Colen -- Aesop Rock will perform at the Varsity Theatre on Monday, July 11. 

ben colen

With a career spanning two decades, Aesop Rock’s name is synonymous with quality, underground hip-hop.

The rapper began in the late ’90s and has been releasing consistently great material for nearly 20 years.

This year was no different. In late April, he released his seventh studio album, “The Impossible Kid,” to critical acclaim.

His current tour includes a stop in Baton Rouge on Monday at the Varsity Theatre. Rob Sonic and DJ Zone open the show. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Aesop Rock, aka Ian Bavitz, solidified his cigarette smoke-etched delivery on 2001’s “Labor Days,” which boasts a 92 (out of 100) score on Metacritic and tracks such as “Boombox” and “Labor.”

Within each song, he weaves tales of this and that, drawing from his personal life and creating a rap style that is his own. That complex lyricism and detailed imagery has made him a talent that can’t be undervalued.

On “The Impossible Kid,” he takes a mostly lighthearted look at his life and career so far.

“In my experience, life is all about ricocheting around these ideas and thoughts and moods, so I try to get that all in there,” Bavitz said. “You can read something tragic in the newspaper, then stub your toe on the way to feed your cat, then hear from an old friend, then build some Ikea furniture — all in the same day. I think putting that all in there is a realistic way of getting one’s thought process across.”

The album touches on everything from playing with his cat Kirby to family stories. When writing, Bavitz said he doesn’t even notice his personal life coming into the song.

“I often don’t even notice when I’m writing something super-personal until other people hear it and tell me,” he said. “I just follow what feels right, and that’s how it comes out. ”

Along with writing all of the songs on the album, Bavitz did most of the musical production as well, giving the album a personal feel.

His sound and followers have grown light years beyond those first CD-Rs he had in the late 1990s. “The Impossible Kid” debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 Top Albums chart. With each release, he welcomes creative collaboration as well.

When “The Impossible Kid” was released, his new label Rhymesayers posted a version of the album on YouTube, backed by a detailed shot-for-shot, stop-motion recreation of “The Shining.”

Bavitz credits video director Rob Shaw with the vision for that project.

“When I told Rob I was gonna need this 50-minute video, he said, ‘How about I recreate a feature with dolls, shot-for-shot?’ ” Bavitz said. “My response was, ‘That sounds like an insane amount of work; but if you really wanna do it, then yes.’ ”

“The Shining,” the 1980s horror classic starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Stanley Kubrick, was the first thing Bavitz thought of for the video project.

“It’s pretty iconic and deals with solitude and some similar themes existing on the record,” Bavitz said. “[Shaw] basically dove right in and did it all in about 7 days. The guy is insane.”