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Giving the 22nd Century a Soundtrack

In "None Shall Pass," underground rapper Aesop Rock comes off as a hip-hop fortuneteller, announcing what will happen in a distinctly combative way. In a sort of soundtrack to the 22nd century, he issues a dire warning that something in the future will look a lot like something happening right now, only much worse. It's the listener's job to figure it out, as Aesop Rock lays down furious rhymes amid thick production and some seriously sick sampling.

Here, his ominous delivery doesn't obscure some of the best wordplay in hip-hop. Talk of war, religion, and falling from grace accompanies intelligent and thoughtful warnings: "Okay, woke to a grocery list / It goes like this / Duty and death / Anyone object / Come stand in the way." Throughout the song, a sweet little beat plays and finally dies out to the sampled words, "I'm trying to help." As "None Shall Pass" fades, it's almost possible to see Aesop Rock walking away, shaking his head, disgusted with a world that isn't listening.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2008 KEXP

John Richards
John Richards is the host and producer of The Morning Show with John on 90.3 FM KEXP Seattle, and online at kexp.org. He is also KEXP's assistant program director.