Created over a 2 year period following his last release, 'None Shall Pass' unravels retrospectively, documenting not only much personal change that Aesop experienced over these years, but also scenes and stories indicative of all ages of life. Forgoing the typical stance of braggadocio everpresent in underground and mainstream hip-hop alike, Aesop Rock investigates and examines himself and others on this album; likening the title phrase to the inevitable judgment that everyone must ncounter by their peers based solely on their actions. The majority of production on 'None Shall Pass' is handled by Aesop's longtime partner BLOCKHEAD, labelmate and friend ROB SONIC and AESOP confidently producing a large portion of his own tracks, not including a trademark dystopian banger by DEF JUX label-head El-P ("Gun For The Whole Family") and features the MOUNTAIN GOATS' JOHN DARNIELLE on the album closer (and second single) "Coffee". DJ BIG WIZ also has a large presence on the album, appearing on 13 out of 14 tracks and offering a devastating rebuttal to those that say the art of scratching is dead.
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