MP3: None Shall Pass
Similar to Atmosphere finding pop-punk fans, Aesop Rock‘s buddying up with suburbanites most favored pastimes (video games, cartoons) without much edge were prolly big points in indie-raps ability to make fiscal ends meet, but also allowed most critics to convince themselves that Paul Wall, and Cam’ron were more avant-garde than those had been championed as the Bukowskis and Shoepenhaurs of their genre.
Thats how I took “Fast Cars, Daggers, and Knives”, Aesop’s last ep, and to a lesser extent “Bazooka Tooth”. He became a middle class guy whose most interesting thing about him was that he could be a cynical dick and he prolly owned the Japanese version of the Playstation 5 and a Sex Pistols album.
Now in the past, Aesop had been a paranoid post-modern, fatalist/scratched idealist, who had realized the high standards of work ethic and existential willpower can have some fatal crashes.
Like how he went from “Labor Days” Daylight’s proclamation, “Life isn’t a bitch, Life is a beautiful women. You are just mad cause your just an asshole that can’t sweet-talk the princess.” to “Maybe your just to asshole. Maybe I am just asshole” of Nightlife.
What a difference 9-11 and the ending of a serious relationship meant to ones concept of what was possible.
So after the Nihilism from heavy trauma came the video games, Nike and prolly a cartoon channel. He prolly got happy because he was getting money. Can’t fault a guy for getting happy, and healthy. But in my opinion he became a parody of himself, and possessing a complete lack of urgency.
Well, “None Shall Pass” bucks this trend.
The Rockness Monster meets Saafir meets a Long Island Jewish man with blunt smoking habit voice, and flow is still in tact. And lyrically, homeboy is back to being Heidegger or some other philosopher that wrote so technical that my pea-brain just picked out the parts that registered meets Hell Rell. And thats what Aesop should be—you kinda pick out the parts that pull you in and go from there. Then he says fuck you in a clever way.
Earlier this week, I wrongly repeated that Pluto had left the universe. It hasn’t left the universe, it was simply demoted to a dwarf planet by astronomers in charge of giving planets complexes. How did I know the crackpot talk I was speaking wasn’t even based in reality? Well, Aesop Rock has a song called “Bring Back Pluto” basically lobbying for Pluto to be reinstated. Now, I am not sure on what the hell Aesop intended but then again, when did an artists intention ever really matter. He might not get it either. It’s about as big of waste of time as any DVD boxset that isn’t the Wire, X-Files or Sex & the City. I mean that in like an RPG manner.
But at least he makes me sit and dwell on the idea of a planet being told it’s not a planet anymore, and its place in the universe has lost its significance.
There is also a song on the album where Aesop talks about some dood getting used for an apartment and sex by a girl, where at some point he describes the guy a “simple simian that let her live with him”. And he has a song called “Pigs” which I assume is about hating cops, or greedy people. He tells the pig that he is wearing “one ugly fucking tie”. And there is another song about not being a communist but still talks about money in a manner that would appeal to a left wing college student. I mean that in a good, vanguard manner.
The production on this album is handled by Blockhead, El-P, and Aesop. Some of the basslines that were on Appleseed seem to be back. And long gone are the Eminemish drums that plagued Bazooka Tooth.
All and all, the album is good.
“None Shall Pass” coupled with El-P’s “I’ll Sleep When You Are Dead” make Def Jux 2 for 2 at a time when their genre needs it the most.