Aesop Rock – None Shall Pass

Aesop RockAesop Rock (aka Ian Bavitz) is part of the same hip-hop stable as EL-P, Definitive Jux. At the turn of the century, the label was one of the most acclaimed left-field hip-hop collectives. In 2005, Aesop moved from NY to San Fransisco, which apparently caused some furore in certain hip-hop circles. God knows if this had any effect on his music, because this is one of the best hip hop albums I’ve heard this year, along with releases from EL-P and Sage Francis. The production , from frequent collaborator Blockhead, is seemingly heavier than EL-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, but it’s less abrasive; there’s more scratching and it’s bass heavy creating a dub-like atmosphere.

On a track like “Bring Back Pluto”, the bass is so strong that it feels like I’m swimming through it. The lyrics are pretty wry, likening the ex-planet to a youngest child bullied by it’s older siblings. Aesop’s delivery style is really interesting after the direct sound of someone like Sage Francis; Aesop tends to roll the words in his mouth which makes his delivery slightly harder to hear, but warm to the ear. In fact, EL-P pops up on “Gun For The Whole Family” which shows of the contrast between their styles.

However it’s this style that’s probably going to put quite a few of you off listening to this album, despite it being a polished and well-produced album. None Shall Pass has some great tracks on it, from the more aggressive tracks at the start like the title track and “Keep Off The Lawn”. Then all the way at the end there’s some slower stuff, like the soulful “Coffee”, but near the start is where real gem is “The Harbour Is Yours”, a rather strange song about pirates which is good fun especially when Aesop starts stuttering his lines. If you’re expecting smooth, glossy Pharell-esque beats here, you should look eleswhere; this is coming firmly from the leftfield.

Aesop Rock -None Shall Pass:

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