Few indie rappers inspire the rabid response in our city that Aesop Rock does.

Few indie rappers inspire the rabid response in our city that Aesop Rock does. The funny thing is, the bulk of Ian Bavitz's local fans have no reason to recall his first Columbus appearance in 2000. Back then, the posters at rec.music.hiphop were the ones paying attention, and you had to order Aesop's EP Appleseed from producer Tony Simon's apartment.

His first local show was a Weightless/Aesop/Atoms lineup, and I can vividly recall him freestyling with Illogic, Blueprint, Vast Aire and others in Pearl Alley while Kese and I painted a backdrop for that night. Aesop stood behind me. My hand shook from his gaze.

Since that night, however, Aesop's strengthened his ties with our city, whether through musical collaborations with Blueprint and Illogic or his friendship with MC Camu Tao. Aesop was in town several times this year to visit his close friend Tao before he passed at 31 from lung cancer.

What: Aesop Rock

When: Friday, Aug. 22

Where: Skully's Music Diner, Short North

Web: www.myspace.com/aesoprockwins

Aesop has resonated with non-scenester hip-hoppers by painting a bleak picture of an idealist scratched into pessimistic condition with complex, awkward rhyme structures and syntax-clashing metonyms. And by responding to overly wordy accolades like the previous sentence by claiming he's just a guy disinterested in everything but playing video games.