Hip-hop artists Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic came together to bump their beats and spit their rhymes on stage on Feb. 4 at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minn.. The two rappers often perform together as a duo called Hail Mary Mallon, and at Wednesday night’s show they performed two hours of their iconic rap duos.
Though the current trend in rap is to brag and talk oneself up as an artist as much as possible, Aesop Rock was quick to compliment his counterpart, Rob Sonic, and his beats producer, DJ Abilities (formerly of the St. Paul-based indie rap duo Eyedea & Abilities.) The three flowed seamlessly together to keep the show diverse, yet unified.
Each of the three artists had their time in the limelight during the concert. Aesop Rock’s classic hard-hitting “ZZZ Top” and “Zero Dark Thirty” featured his impossibly fast rap verses. DJ Abilities took the crowd back in time as he showed his skills scratching some late-90s Minneapolis hip-hop and Rob Sonic got to pretend he was 20 years younger than he really is when he and Aesop Rock came together for some of the hits from their December-released album “Beastiary.”
Though the show did get a bit lengthy toward the end, fans of the legendary duo rarely seemed to tire. The rappers were constantly engaging with their fans and encouraging everyone to yell out their lyrics and never stop dancing.
The rappers put on an incredibly captivating show by not only having witty and impressively speedy lyrics, but also by enjoying themselves and embracing the quirky characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the rap scene.
Aesop Rock, 38-year-old rapper from Newport, NY, strutted across stage flashing a huge grin and intermittently fixated the crowd with his intense bug-eyed stare. Rob Sonic, his big-bellied partner from the Bronx, moseyed around and held his heaviy-tattooed fist in the air, gritting his teeth and bobbing his head to DJ Abilities’ beat.
But what is it that has allowed these iconic rappers to continue performing to sold-out crowds almost 20 years after beginning their musical careers? What is it that still brings 20-year-old blue-haired hipsters and 40-year-old moms on their night off alike to scream the duo’s lyrics across the nation?
Aesop and Rob bring listeners something that seems to be nearly nonexistent in the rap scene today: authenticity. The quirky middle-agers have set aside the hip-hop standards of objectification of women and self-praise to bring listeners lyrics that center on everyday life. Because of this, their music has never slipped out of style.
Whatever it is that will eventually slow down this power duo of rap, it doesn’t seem to have made an appearance quite yet.