None Shall Pass
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None Shall Pass [Explicit]
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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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Catacomb Kids. Essentially speaking on his life & antics growing up in Suffolk County in Northshore, New York. Almost completely within the air of sarcasm throughout the entire track saying lines like "No hookie rookie, day trippin on visions of chickens that look like R. Crumb drew em", basically saying he was no stranger to skipping school and he would often day dream about rinky dink bitches (or chickenheads) that look like the artist R.Crumb drew them. I found that line ridiculously hilarious. Also the line "Crispy the god sender who thunk over a quarter plunk to local Mortal Kom venders" basically sarcastically making fun of the religious church kids going to be burnt to crisp in hell for spending all of their free time in arcades playing violent games like Mortal Kombat, etc. I found this funny because I myself grew around kids EXACTLY like this lol. Great track with also much sarcasm of neighborhood skulduggery and criminal mischief I could relate to.
Five Fingers. The story, evolution, and character traits of a crooked man. Aesop is insisting that a crooked life starts as early as toddler stages saying lines like "Two coke bottles adorn the rogue toddler Grapple a refrigerator, gaffle vanilla wafer" and the complete and utter neglecting of any remorse or scruples for stealing with the line "And no role model provoke him to shift focus, cause he noticed that a cookie tastes better when it's stolen". When broken down into several different ways this track can actually teach quite a bit about the psyche of a crooked person. Loved it.
And finally, No City. The more I listen to and decipher this song the more I feel like this is one of my top 5 favorite songs in hip hop history (yes I just said that). Basically in a very ROUGH nutshell Aesop is saying that man (people in general) is smart and hardworking but ignorance is bliss and blind to the power that be, and as long as he (Aesop) recognizes this, he can be ahead of the curve. Like the line "A is gullible you figure, all man equal, no brainer. Take it his friends and neighbors didn't cater." He is sarcastically saying everyone is naive to thinking all men are equal when we obviously are not. Another favorite line is "He's brazen but apparently inferno bound now. For when a man of cloth recite his wrongs he wouldn't bow down", basically saying a man can be bold and courageous standing as role model amongst rebels, but since he is going against grain, he is hell bound. And while a man who is higher up in society is busted for doing terrible things behind closed doors he is generally unpunished." There is much more depth to this track that I could almost write an entire article on. It is definitely a poetically brilliant song that resonates very deeply with me.
Aesop Rock, in my opinion is among one of the greatest lyricists I have ever heard. Each line he spits, after a careful analyzing, seems like he spent hours writing it, and it's that reason alone that makes him so prolific. Your thoughts should not be contemporary when engaging Aesop Rock, you should be thinking more along the lines of great poets in history like Edgar Allen Poe or Earnest Hemingway, even a few very light sprinkles of Dr. Seuss's style. His writings in None Shall Pass are at an absolute peak and even though I only lightly described 3, all of the tracks are incredibly deep and teach dozens upon dozens of lessons. Aesop see's things clear, very clear. And until I get enough time to decipher Skelethon, None Shall Pass will stand as the epitome of all that is Aesop Rock and his best album. Hope you've enjoyed the review. Thanks for reading.