Aesop Rock None Shall Pass

None Shall Pass showcases the influence of Rock’s West coast migration, fusing neo-Shakespearian raps with drop-top fresh beats by himself, Blockhead and Rob Sonic (as well as a disappointing contribution from El-P that feels obligatory). Conceptually, there isn’t much new, save "Fumes,” his first (kind of) love song. But "39 Thieves,” "Citronella” and "No City” are some of his finest sinister songs yet. Lyrically, he’s no less verbose and clever, working best in the present tense because if you overanalyse what you just heard, you’ll miss out on the next gem. On "Catacomb Kids,” an exploration of the youth’s zeitgeist, he says, "Garbage pail kids unite at the mall food court/Chase cheese fries with Banaca/They shut the school down early, there were bombs inside the locker.” Spend too much time on that and you’ll miss this: "They responded like a snow day.” What is new, however, are his diligent hooks and traditional structure, making the record very repeatable. Ironically titled, None Shall Pass is Aesop’s most accessible effort and nothing highlights this more than "Coffee,” which, if popular DJs knew any better, would be emanating from countrywide clubs. (Def Jux)