Thursday, 6 September 2007

Verse of the week – Aesop Rock ‘None Shall Pass’

Hairy-chinned nerd-rap figurehead Aesop Rock has an interview over at the Smoking Section on account of his new album None Shall Pass. It’s not tremendously revealing or diverting, but mister Rock does address critics who lazily refer to his dense, often-baffling lyrics as “stream of consciousness”. Quite right – his artfully-constructed verses have nothing of the unhinged imaginative mania of, say, Ghostface or the self-absorbed free-association of Lil’ Wayne. What he is aiming at is harder to define: are these elaborate puzzle-poems intended to reward repeated close listenings (and readings)? Or are they an elaborate formal exercise in disrupting meanings and statements, playfully inverting an art-form usually based around self-assertion and bragging? Or is it just “art college drop-out nonsense” as one commenter on TSS suggested? GMS is undecided: for my money his label-boss and collaborator El-P, while a technically inferior rapper, does this sort of thing in a more satisfying manner – his use of unexpected words and images works as a means of expressing complex emotional and political feelings in a manner that’s adequate, personal, and free of cliché. On the whole Aesop seems more interested in frustrating interpretation than in communicating, which makes it rather difficult to get through a whole album. That said, None Shall Pass has plenty of highlights – in particular the John Darnielle-assisted ‘Coffee’ and the title track, which sees to be something of a statement of intent by Aesop’s standards talking about fame, war, fake rap feuds and “rouge vocoder bliss”. Watch out T-Pain. It also has a bloody cracking video. Aesop Rock ‘None Shall Pass’ Flash that buttery gold, jittery zeitgeist
Wither by the watering hole, water patrol
What are we, a heart huckabee, art fuckery suddenly?
Not enough young in his lung for the water wings?
Colorfully vulgar poacher at a mulch like
“I’m-a pull the pulse out a soldier and bolt” (fine)
Sign of the time we elapsed
When a primate climb up the spine and attach
Eye for an eye, by the bog’s life swamps and vines
They get a rise out of frogs and flies
So when a dog fights hog-tied prize sort-a costs a life
The mouth’s water on a fork and knife
And the allure isn’t right
It’s gore on a war-torn beach
Where the cash cows actually beef
Blood turns wine when I leak for police
Like “That's not a riot, it's a feast, let’s eat.'”

And I will remember your name and face
On the day you were judged by the funhouse cast
And I will rejoice in your fall from grace
With a cane to the sky like “None shall pass.”
None shall pass, none shall pass

Now if he never had a day a snow cone couldn't fix
he wouldn’t relate to the rouge vocoder bliss
How he spoke through a no-doz, motor on the fritz
’Cause he wouldn’t play roll over, fetch, like a bitch
And express no regrets though he isn’t worth the homeowners piss
To the jokers who pose by the glitz (Fine)
Sign of the swine and the swarm
When a king is a whore who comply and conform
Miles outside of the eye of the storm
With a siphon to lure and a prize and award
While avoiding the vile and bizarre that is violence and war
True blue triumph is more
Like wait, let it snake up outta the centerfold
Let it break the walls of Jericho. ready? go.
Sat where the old cardboard city folks
Swap tails with heads like every other penny throw

Okay, woke to a grocery list
Goes like this: duty and death
Anyone object, come stand in the way
You can be my little Snake River Canyon today
And I ran with a chain of commands
And a jetpack strap where the backstab lands if it can. (Fine)
Sign of the vibe in the crowd
When I cut a belly open to find what climb out
What a bit of gusto he muster up
Make a dark horse rush like enough's enough
It must-a struck a nerve so they huff and puff
Till all the king’s men fluster and clusterfuck
And it’s a beautiful thing
To my people who keep an impressive wing span
Even when the cubicle shrink
You gotta pull up the intruder by the root of the weed
NY chew through the machine

1 comment:

SiD said...

love this tune.