Aesop Rock

None Shall Pass (Definitive Jux)

His Definitive Jux labelmate El-P is P.K. Dick-obsessed, and fellow Caucasian rap-adours like Buck 65 and Sage Francis delve into bloggish beatnik narratives. But Aesop Rock seems like the last honky indie rapper who just wants to kick a beat and bust a rhyme.

The hook is that Rock is a four-dimensional writer who crafts his words better than he delivers them, which will either amaze or annoy the hell out of you. Rock's vocals are like a groggy dry-heave, like he's rapping while trying to hold in a bong hit. Given his wordplay — as an MC, Rock is somewhere between Thomas Pynchon, Divine Styler, and Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes — this is something to behold. He rhymes "Cutty Sark," "narc," and about 10 other "-arc"s in one line on "Citronella." The opening verse of "Catacomb Kids" is so dense — something about "chickens that looked like R. Crumb drawings" — it's a cornucopia of onomatopoeia that Venn-diagrams into logorrhea.

Generally Rock's flow sounds like he's trying to get all the words he's scribbled in the margin of his journal out in an open-mike poetry reading before his time is up. Beat-wise, though, things are dope. The title track is a bouncy little house beat that's abstract and melodic enough to support Rock's double-time rhymes instead of fighting them. On "Five Fingers," he is as much Slick Rick as he is Eminem. But it's on tracks like "Dark Heart News," where guest MCs and a jauntier beat lighten things up, that Rock stops trying to fit 10 pounds of shit into a five-pound bag and lets the hip finally hop.

 
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