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None Shall Pass (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Aesop Rock has been impressing the backpacker crowd with his intricate lyrics and dark, dirty, melodic production ever since he self-released Music for Earthworms back in 1997, helping to define the East Coast underground scene and validate the presence of white rappers. And even though he moved to San Francisco in 2005, prompting some outcry from New York purists, all thoughts of bright, funky West Coast beats and lyrics can be put to rest, because None Shall Pass, the album being heralded as the true follow-up to the seminal Labor Days, is as powerful as anything the MC has ever created. Once again Blockhead takes responsibility for most of the production here, though he's helped out both by Rock himself (who showed off his skills, as well as those of his guitar-playing wife, on the Nike-commissioned Original Run series back in February 2007) and Def Jux labelhead and near-legend El-P, who also adds vocals to "39 Thieves," one of the few tracks on the record that has a fairly comprehensible message ("Money is cool, 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**t," he rhymes in the breakdown). Because despite, or perhaps more accurately, due to, Aesop Rock's verbal talent and his ability to combine complicated internal rhyme with innovative phrasing and metaphors, a lot of his couplets, and even entire stories, are fairly cryptic. "None Shall Pass," with its great keyboard sample and helium-voiced chorus, is vaguely about society having to pay for its sins, the fantastic "The Harbor Is Yours" tells the tale of a "pirate," and features some great vocal stuttering ("And you should tell them where you situate the gold/That is unless you'd like a vacation with Davy J-J-J-Jones"), and "Bring Back Pluto" is more than an appeal to astronomers, though to who else it applies to is a little unclear. This doesn't mean that there are a lot of empty phrases here — Aesop Rock is clearly a careful, deliberate writer — but he can tend toward the experimental school of rhyme, which can be a little alienating. Still, his cadence, sharp and accentuated, and his bitonal flow are strangely warm and inviting, and it's hard not to get sucked into at least trying to understand what he's saying, trying to make sense of it all. Plus, the talent, both of Rock and his guests (which, besides El-P, also include Ron Sonic, John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats, Breezly Brewin', and Cage) is impressive, and makes None Shall Pass an album that deserves a lot of attention, both inside and outside the hip-hop world.

Customer Reviews

By far his best album...

I've been waiting for so long for this full length, since the release of "Fast Cars...", and wow, is it worth the wait. I was so excited to recieve my preordered copy in the mail today, and I must say, I personally think it's his best yet. For the first time, it feels like his songs are constructed with a sense of accomplishment, as if he no longer has to prove himself or his verbal virtuosity. This album has a completely different feel, and, other than his voice and style, doesn't really resemble any of his past albums. To emphasize this, I should mention that his wife, Allyson Baker of Parchman Farm, plays guitar on most of the tracks. Hearing the title track when it was released on 'Definitive Swim', I couldn't wait for this to drop, but, oddly enough, this is the one song that sounds so out of place and alienated from the rest of the album. If you're buying this with that song in mind, you'll be very surprised as to how lively the rest of it is (honestly, i couldve done without this song to trade for 'the next best thing' off the 'coffee' single). The production leaves the EL-P-clone style of 'Bazooka Tooth', and moves in a totally new, organic direction. It feels so natural, including a 'Nightlight'-esqe alternate version of 'Fishtales', 'The Harbor Is Yours'. Whatever you're expecting from this album, I think you'll be hard pressed to be disappointed. Aes Rock's back, and this is his best outing yet. It's all great, but some highlights are: "Keep Off The Lawn", "Getaway Car", "Dark Heart News".

Aesop Rock Wins!

While his unique oral audio is backed by brilliant beats that catch compliment, Aesop Rock has never been a superficial, surface-level rapper and deserves more than just an ear; None Shall Pass deserves a moldable mind open to something other than the values dominating pop-rap of today. Aesop will sail you on a journey across a sea of uncertainty in a sometimes weary world on his ship made of metaphors and archetypal imagery while dabbling in the anything-but-obvious emotional responses to our world.

Better than Labor Days

The impression I first got when I popped this disc into my computer and heard Aesop's first rhymes was "wow, his delivery has totally changed for the better." Of course he still delivers quick, usually confusing rhymes. But on this record he definatly lets up a bit. That alone is one good reason why None Shall Pass is his best release to date. Time to rate the music (note, my opinion): #1. "Keep Off the Lawn" - Lyrics: 8/10 | Flow: 8/10 | Production: 10/10 #2. "None Shall Pass" - Lyrics: 7/10 | Flow: 10/10 | Production: 9/10 #3. "Catacomb Kids" - Lyrics: 9/10 | Flow: 8/10 | Production: 8/10 #4. "Bring Back Pluto" - Lyrics: 7/10 | Flow: 7/10 | Production: 8/10 #5. "Fumes" - Lyrics: 7/10 | Flow: 6/10 | Production: 7/10 #6. "Getaway Car" - Lyrics: 8/10 | Flow: 8/10 | Production: 8/10 #7. "39 Thieves" - Lyrics: 10/10 | Flow: 9/10 | Production: 8/10 #8. "The Harbor Is Yours" - Lyrics: 9/10 | Flow: 6/10 | Production: 10/10 #9. "Citronella" - Lyrics: 7/10 | Flow: 7/10 | Production: 8/10 #10. "Gun For the Whole Family" - Lyrics: 8/10 | Flow: 9/10 | Production: 9/10 #11. "Five Fingers" - Lyrics: 9/10 | Flow: 9/10 | Production: 7/10 #12. "No City" - Lyrics: 9/10 | Flow: 8/10 | Production: 10/10 #13. "Dark Heart News" - Lyrics: 10/10 | Flow: 10/10 | Production: 8/10 #14. "Coffee" - Lyrics: 8/10 | Flow: 9/10 | Production: 7/10 Short description of each song- Keep Off the Lawn - Mostly an intro and not a full song. Good beat, and a nice ending (besides the child saying "Aesop Rock") None Shall Pass - Unique beat, weird chorus, and the flow is great. Catacomb Kids - Creative lyrics, pretty good chorus, the beat isn't anything special though. Bring Back Pluto - Everything I have to say about this song is OK, the chorus is a bit different though. Fumes - Probably the worst song on the album. The beat is kind of cool, but isn't Aesop's style. Getaway Car - Pretty good song. Lyrically a bit weak, but still good. 39 Thieves - My personal favorite, only weaker point is the beat. The Harbor Is Yours - Cool beat and a rap about pirates, can't be that bad. Citronella - I don't really understand the lyrical aim in this song, but it's an OK song. Gun For the Whole Family - Cool beat, I like how it changes drastically but seems to fit well. Five Fingers - All around OK song, the lyrics are pretty good. No City - Catchy and somewhat melancholic beat. An underrated song for sure. Dark Heart News - Good lyrics. The beat is a club-worthy one, but nothing special. Coffee - OK lyrics, I love the ending with John Darnielle. Overall Rating: 8/10


Born: May 11, 1976 in Long Island, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Building on the rapping style of eccentrics Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, Def Jux headliner Aesop Rock became one of the hottest MCs in the post-millennial underground. After a pair of self-released LPs (Appleseed, Music for Earthworms), he recorded Float for Mush in 2000. The former Ian Bavitz then issued a pair of singles -- "Coma" and "Boom Box" -- for another underground rap label paragon, Definitive Jux. His second full-length, 2001's Labor Days, earned positive reviews and featured...
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None Shall Pass (Bonus Track Version), Aesop Rock
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