None Shall Pass
(08.2007, Definitive Jux)
Verdict = Back To Making the Best Sense Out of Nonsense
For many, Aesop Rock’s 2001 release, Labor Days, was one of the best hip hop records to ever sneak out of the underground. I’m definitely in that crowd. The subsequent years have left admirers scrambling to come to terms with the reality of that album’s singularity. Albums like Labor Days don’t get replicated and that has to be irritating for Aesop. He will now permanently deal with an army of listeners that will constantly beg for his “return to form.” While this has to be annoying, with None Shall Pass, Aesop Rock has finally created an album to appease his carnivorous fans. The album is his first since Labor Days that is once again both lyrically mind boggling and fun. On None Shall Pass, Aesop Rock maintains the title of the weirdest, most awesome lyricist on the underground hip hop landscape. His flow is wholly unique and shows no signs of growing stale, even after so many years. The beauty of None Shall Pass is that it is simply much easier to digest and is a welcome addition to the much beloved emcee’s catalog. Tracks like lead single and album namesake “None Shall Pass” are simply impossible not to repeat. I suspect the track sits right next to “Daylight” as an unsolicited request from overly exited fans at his live shows. This isn’t all though, Aesop has a whole albums worth of consistency here. Additional highlights here include El-P cameo-ed “Guns For the Whole Family,” album opener “Keep Off The Lawn,” and the jazzy, Labor Days era “Bring Back Pluto”. Welcome back to critical acceptance Aesop, maybe by the next album you won’t have to read about Labor Days again.