Created over a 2 year period following his last release, None Shall Pass documents not only a vast amount of personal change that Aesop experienced over this time, but also deftly depicts scenes and stories relative to all ages of life. The majority of production duties have been handled by Aesop's longtime partner Blockhead, while label mates El-P and Rob Sonic each make offerings. Aesop himself confidently produces a handful of his own tracks as well.
Aesop Rock has always avoided courting mass appeal in favor of lyrically battering tomes and musically unrelenting blitzkrieg. With None Shall Pass
, things have changed. There's nothing like a brisk jog to help chill out a few notches, so after the digital-only release All Day
--an album in conjunction with Nike, meant to be heard while on a 45-minute run--it's no surprise that the following album from indie hip-hop's most aggressive MC is radically more accessible than his previously feral discography. Throughout, None Shall Pass
supports the rapid-fire delivery and surreal world-view that longtime fans have come to adore, but finally, Aesop throws the masses a bone via backing tracks loaded with hooks aplenty and riffs to spare. "Catacomb Kids" spins a coming-of-age tale atop a guitar line worthy of the best in early '90s rap-rock. "Fumes" stutters forth on the most slithering, syncopated drum cadence in the whole Aesop archive. The ambling instrumental behind "No City" is a dead ringer for Portishead. All told, only a few of these songs sidestep a new commitment to accessibility that should mark None Shall Pass
as Aesop Rock's breakout record. At last. --Jason Kirk