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None Shall Pass

46 customer reviews

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None Shall Pass
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Audio CD, August 28, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 28, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Def Jux
  • ASIN: B000SNUMA2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,494 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By btnh1999 on August 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I think that the majority of Aesop fans got worried around the release of Bazooka Tooth that one of the best rappers in the underground scene was losing his touch. Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives did little to assuage that worry.

For me, at least, this latest album was going to be all or nothing. If it sucked, then it meant I would have to come to terms with the fact that there might not be another Labor Days, and that Aesop might have run out of ideas. If it was good, though, then his mediocre last two albums would be forgiven as nothing but a phase, a testing of a style that didn't necessarily work. Aesop would be back.

Fortunately, the latter was true. But don't take that to mean that this is another Labor Days or another Float. This album has a different sound, a different style, and a different direction than anything Aesop has done before. In my personal opinion, it doesn't quite reach the lyrical greatness of his pre-Bazooka work, but it succeeds where Bazooka Tooth failed in that it is actually fun to listen to. The production is absolutely stellar (with the exception of one sub-par track from Rob Sonic), with head-nodders and melodic masterpieces throughout. The guest spots are well-integrated, well-planned, and few enough to avoid the disjointed feel that plagues so many rap albums.

Aesop's lyrics are as cryptic as ever, a quality that has never really allowed him to be popular in the mainstream, but has made him an icon in the underground. His songs require patience and active decoding. Anyone familiar with Aesop's work knows that the true concepts and messages of his songs lie buried in a thick mesh of obscure cultural references, little-known slang, inside jokes, and complex metaphors.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Taco Bandit on April 24, 2008
Format: Audio CD
So, to me, it seems that early on in their careers rappers/emcees need to decide if they're going to be class A or class B:

class A releases a couple amazing albums but then becomes artistically spent and sticks around as a hollow shell of their former selves selling albums on reputation and glimpses of their former glory: Nas, Eminem, 50 come to mind.

Then there's class B whom you have to wait ages for new material, but when it finally comes out they continue to amaze: Breeze Brewin, Dr. Dre, El-P.

Then there's Aesop Rock, who's in a class of his own. He doesn't let more than a couple years go between an EP or LP, and seemed to drop amazing versus on everyone else's album in between, and yet with every new release the quality is easily as good as the previous one, if not better. It blows my mind when a rapper is as prolific and inexhaustible as AR is. Aesop doesn't try to draw fake buckets from his empty artist's well, rather I picture his well overflowing nonstop and it's all he can do to attempt to frantically catch even half of it.

Although Blockhead is back I don't really see this as a step backward toward Labor Days and Float like others seem to. Everything is so refined and AR seems so comfortable and at home (almost in an "I'm dope and know it" sort of way) just as he was in Fast Cars and Bazooka.

One nice innovation that worked out splendidly was the live instrumentation including the guitar riffs his wife lays down. As soon as I heard it scorch into the opening track I was like "oh, no you didn't just tastefully share a track w/ block and Aes did you! yes you did!" It works perfectly and it's yet another new take/direction for AR musically.

All in all, the realist in me keeps waiting for Aesop to stop either dropping so frequently or become a hollow shell of his former self, but the fan wanting both quality and quantity has yet to be disappointed. Here's to having our cake and eating it too!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Maxx on September 30, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I must be one of the few who really loved Aes' new direction that he flaunted on Bazooka Tooth and Fast Cars. Those albums were a marked departure from all of his previous work and showed intense progression towards a more confrontational, swagga-laden hip hop style.

That's all gone on this record.
His older style makes its celebrated return, making for an album less incendiary than its predecessors, but still a very strong effort. For the stories Aesop wanted to tell, I suppose his old style was the only way to do it. I was a bit disappointed on first spin, but since then this record has really grown on me. Once the tales sink their teeth into your neck, these tracks deliver some of the most concrete ideas of his career.

To balance it all out, there are still a couple tracks where the message is typically cryptic (Popcorn, eh?). The Aesop faithful wouldn't have it any other way, but since this album is...a step backward in my book (no offense), I can't help but wonder what this album would be like if the songs were as self-explanatory as "No Regrets" (off Labor Days), as communication appears to be what he's going for. Some tracks are, others are not.


Hope this helps.
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By Michael P. Steinke on February 4, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Aesop has been a name mentioned with the best of hip hop artists since joining Def Jux and for good reason. His style is unique and his vocabulary is beyond many of the "masters" of hip hop. When Aesop's fan base started growing, he was teamed with Blockhead who was producing beats for him. When Aesop released Bazooka Tooth many of his fans were puzzled, worried and even disappointed that he had lost his mind. Since Blockhead's production was lacking on the album, people tied the two together. In all honesty, Bazooka Tooth was different indeed, but still featured classic Aesop Rock vocals and lyrics. Fast Cars seemed to continue exploring what Bazooka Tooth started, but was not quite there yet. None Shall Pass is the album that combines the old with the new. This album is consistently more grimy and edgy than Float and Labor Days, but more controlled and steady than Bazooka Tooth.

The opening track kicks us off indicating the album won't just be alive, but too alive. My personal favorite song, 39 Thieves, features Aesop showing off during a break down.

"We're not concerned with the community aloofness
Duke, we're animals, we just go where the most food is
Lower the toast, most formal etiquette is useless
Truth is you're equally expendable if spoonfed
(Money Money)
Money is cool and I'm only human
But they use it as a tool to make the workers feel excluded
Like the shinier the jewel the more exclusive the troop is
Bullets don't take bribes stupid, they shoot s***"

He spits out while his voice and the music fades from one speaker to the other and back. The production on None Shall Pass is new and refreshing and fits nicely allowing Aesop to show his lyrical abilities. This is easily one of the best albums of 2007.
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