Hip Hop fans are constantly put between a rock and a hard place. How do you embrace this new generation of hip hop, while still paying respect to the legends who built the foundation? This is something that many fans will tell you they struggle with; especially when someone who they have always claimed to respect decides to make a comeback. This struggle can become very awkward especially when one of these artists decides to put out new music in an entirely different hip hop atmosphere than the one they dominated. We have seen many of these older artists put out music, only to be ignored by the mainstream and be told that their sound is too out of touch with what is hot today. With Masta Ace, that conundrum continues as he joins forces with the metal faced MF Doom for MA_DOOM: Son of Yvonne.
The production on this album is handled in full by veteran beat smith MF Doom and ooze’s of the 90’s. A basic beat structure with Piano and saxophone chords thrown in to add a mid tempo jazz feel. Think of the Hip Hop production era of 1992-96 and you know exactly what to expect. In the era of 808 beats and multi-layered sound effects, Doom seems to be attempting to send a message to listeners, “lyrics matter.” The beats on this album are made to put little emphasis on production, and making it easier to zone in on the lyrics. The albums sound is 100% Old School New York, and is littered with DJ scratches, back spins, and basic drum patterns. The chemistry between Ace and Doom is very evident, with his lyrical approach being completely in tune with Dooms production. If you’re a fan of the new up-tempo, electric fad you will find a hard time connecting with this album.
Ever hear a song, and get so engulfed with the beat and hook that with only a few seconds left before it finishes, you realize that you didn’t hear a word that the rapper said? Well it’s very difficult to do that with this album. Dooms emphasis was definitely not on production. The beats are good, but they will not over power the lyrics. Ace does many things well and a lot of it you can attribute to years of perfecting his craft. One of the things that stick out more than anything is his clarity. His flow is clear, simple and easy to follow, he also does a very good job at voice control, able to toy with his pitches ever so slightly depending on what emotion he’s attempting to express on the track. The lyrics are lacking any kind of jaw dropping metaphors or complicated word play, but sometimes the best way to excel is to keep things simple. The message of this album is clearly the most important thing to Ace. If this were basketball, he would be the player going for the sure fire two handed dunk, while other players were doing 360’s. One looks nicer than the other, but you know exactly what you’re going to get with the first, and they both take a level of skill superior to what the average person would have.
MA_DOOM: Son of Yvonne was meant to be a concept album, and that is exactly what he made. The entire album is laid out in story format, switching between Ace talking about his mother, reminiscing on past experiences and giving warnings to his listeners. The album starts off with an introduction from the child hood version of ace giving a creative and personal touch to the introduction. Every song is tinged with lessons learned from his mother, his interaction with the people he grew up with along with the life long goal of becoming a rapper. Aspiring artist can find some direction when he discusses some of his experiences with entering the game and how women can be a danger just as well as a pleasure. The album features appearances from the legendary Big Daddy Kane, Pav Bundy, Reggie B, Milani the Artist and a verse from MF Doom.
This album may end up being one of those unappreciated works of art. Ace has put together a beautiful story of his life while honoring his mother and staying true to his craft. This is a great album, and in a different hip hop climate might be critically acclaimed. Unfortunately listeners are looking for something different, radio is looking for something catchy, and quality music has become something that is sacrificed in order to get a few trending comments on Twitter and iTunes downloads. For those of us who are still fans of good lyrics quality content, and story telling this album gives you all of those things, and who knows. Maybe I’m wrong and this album will get the credit it deserves. We’ll see.