Start with a simple piano loop, followed by a snare and a flat bass drum kick. Add in a dash of high hat and a bass line that could have come from any late 70s funk song. Then bring in the slowly scratched sample of voice saying, “I’m trying to help.” Quietly, without warning, comes the deep raspy voice of the underground’s prodigal son, Aesop Rock. Lyrically jumping through hoops and keeping time with the drums and the piano loop. Aesop Rock’s verse is followed by the half sung half rapped chorus of “none shall pass.” This is how Aesop Rock’s None Shall Pass begins, the first single and title track from his long-awaited fourth studio album.
The experience can be seen when Aesop Rock comes to Western’s Multi-Purpose Room on April 15. The show begins at 7:30 pm, and costs $14 for students, $20 for others.
None Shall Pass, his, on the Definitive Jux label, is expected to be released by the end of the year. Long-time collaborator and producer Blockhead, among others, will accompany Aesop Rock with the new album’s production.
Aesop Rock describes the sound on the new record as, “a very exploratory hip hop sound mixed with some breaks and some funk…it sounds like where I am right now.”
Not only has Aesop Rock been working on his new album, but he has been busy with other projects this past year. Aesop Rock worked with San Francisco visual design artist Jeremy Fish to release The Next Best Thing, a children’s book for adults. The book is filled with rust-colored images, Jeremy Fish’s signature skull and rabbits. A special picture vinyl accompanies the full-color book.
Aesop describes the idea behind The Next Best Thing as, “a nice collaboration with a visual artist and friend. It’s not too often that collabs of this nature go down. People care about the visual presentation of their music far too little. So me and Jeremy kinda just brainstormed for a while and that’s what came out.”
The result is a jump in the right direction. The Next Best Thing is the perfect combination of music and art, smashed together in one bright and colorful package.
This February Aesop Rock released All Day, which is a forty-five minute track for Nike’s Original Run series. All Day is a track that Aesop Rock created to listen to while jogging.
“Nike asked me to make the music, and I thought it was a weird concept and unlike anything I had ever gotten an offer to do, so I went for it. It was fun, and I had a good time pulling it off.”
Aesop Rock is not the only artist Nike has hired to create a forty-five minute track. Other artists include LCD Soundsystem and the Crystal Method.
Aesop Rock’s busy year wouldn’t be complete without a tour to promote None Shall Pass. Western Washington University will be his second stop on the west coast.
His shows are chalked full of freestyles and skit interludes, which makes him one of the best live performers in underground hip-hop.
Aesop Rock said his live performances are influenced by anybody that impresses him.
“Anyone who can rock well, just study them and adapt things into your show. Lif (Mr. Lif) really helped me get my live show to where it is now. I just watch people and I’m usually unimpressed, so when something impresses me I steal it,” he said.