Gifted. Lyrical. Bizarre. And yes, he's even an "Accepted Eclectic" who set out to prove to the world that "All Balls Don't Bounce." The rap maestro who likes to call himself Ace One for short is definitely one of a kind. In a world of artists who hope to hit it big on the radio just once and leave their originality behind for a fat paycheck, Acey eschews the mainstream with a passion. In fact, releasing singles off his albums often reads like a middle finger at the whole world - they are popular with college DJ's and underground fans, and that's about it - and he doesn't even give a shit. If he was anti-pop and untalented it would be meaningless, but as a supreme mic wielder the righteous refusal to assimilate makes him a folk hero to hip-hop heads worldwide.
If you're lucky enough to find this album in a mainstream retail outlet and pick it up, you may suspect from the packaging that it's "conceptual." Murder Inc. fans read "conceptual" as "whack" - anything more profound than Ja Rule singing about his wannabe Tupac thug life. In some cases they'd be right - artists who spend too much time trying to fit the songs of their album into one theme often stifle their work's creativity. It goes without saying that Ace can be as conceptual as any artist in rap sans Prince Paul when he wants to be, but this album is not "A Book of Human Language Part Two." If there is a theme here it's only in the broadest conception of the balance of the universe; yin and yang, good and evil, "Love & Hate." As such he's free to address a wide range of topics, from profound to plain silly. "Lost Your Mind" falls squarely into the latter:
"Out the gate, four-twenty minutes late
Sorry about the wait, I was in the back posted
Trees got roasted, and I got toasted
The party gon' still get hosted, let's go
Grab somebody, stab somebody
I'm just kiddin have a party, laugh with somebody
We gon' break it down whether you like it or not
I got a human beatbox goin block to block
And we gon' kill that noise, chill dem boys
Deal with them toys, good brother what's crackin?
Open up the candy store and give 'em a taste
My name's Ace, homey you about to get laced - man!
Y'all people done lost y'all minds (say what?)
The thought never ran across y'all minds? (worrrd)
Y'know the good shit's hard to find (c'mon)
Well this here's gon' blow yo' motherfuckin brains out"
"Takeoff" is the penultimate opposite - it sounds like the apocalypse, NOW:
"Outwardly, inwardly, openly, awkwardly
Happily, dastardly, tragedy and casualty
Same story same flight
Where they put yo' body same strip same spite, same endin
Same car, same endin, same tension brewin
Give me the steel, what the FUCK is you doin?
You done enough it's not enough, act two
I'm runnin up it's not a bluff, I'm bout to crack you
Nonchalant, idiots about no comp
Romp, with the big guys, stomp all the pies
Kick the box, light these M-80's
Ladies grab your babies, run for safety
I don't think it may be a, good idea to stand here
You have no idea of what the FUCK'S about to land here
Smart bombs, J-DAMS, bring mayhem"
And when you're searching for balance, the title track is equal parts of both:
"I want you to live life/I don't care if you die
I want you to laugh/I want you to cry
First they're your friends and then they your enemy
At first they give you love and then they combat your energy
You love dem niggaz/they make you sick
You love dat woman/you hate that bitch!
Let's make love/nah eat this dick
I love my music but I hate this shit!"
Aceyalone being able to speak his mind on anything and everything is not a surprise to his long time fans; what might be is the beats. On his last release "Hip Hop and the World We Live In" the surprise was how producer Elusive handled the album - sometimes providing beats that matched Acey's superb lyrics with finesse, but often doing far less. Ace seems to do better when matched with a set of different producers as diverse as he is, and that fact has been realized on "Love & Hate." Long time cohort Fat Jack provides on the mellow "The Saga Continues" featuring Abstract Rude, El-P produces and appears on the appropriately ominous "City of Shit," PMG dips into the sound of Sanford & Son on "Junkman" yet goes completely enjoyably abstract on Acey's quirky "In Stereo":
"I can really rip a rapper for whatever it's worth
And introduce you to the greatest show on earth
Oh it's beautiful, isn't it? I had it since birth
And it feels so incredible when I'm puttin in work
It's like I'm headed for heights, I'm ready to fight
They said it be light, they said it be bright
I said am I right, now what's the use of rockin my boat
Well any way you rock it I'ma keep it afloat
It's like I fly in the ocean, I swim in the sky
I'm live in a stereo, I'm so energized"
"Love & Hate" achieves the nexus of hip-hop nirvana as a result. An Aceyalone album is always worth copping on the strength of his writing and flows alone, since his timing is timeless, his pitch is perfect, and his verbosity ambidexterous. It's a rare treat then to hear his songs matched to producers who understand his eccentricity and versatility and can go blow for blow with his writtens. Whether it's the soft strumming of RJD2's beat on "Moonlit Skies" or the funky jazz of Killugrand's "Ace Cowboy" or Joey Chavez' haunting wind instruments on the bonus track "Ms. AmeriKKKa" featuring J-Rocc on the cut, every beat seems to have been crafted to interlock with the words like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. And when you put this picture together there's only one conclusion you can draw about "Love & Hate" by Aceyalone - this is a flawless album.
Music Vibes: 10 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 10 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 10 of 10
Originally posted: June 20, 2003