In celebration of WYDU’s third year of exsistence, we are giving away the two CD’s for this weeks “This or That”. NEW copies (sorry they are represses) of both Slaughtahouse and Sittin’ On Chrome will be given away this week. Just submit answers to the question for each CD.
If you want to submit your name for the Slaughtahouse CD, just answer this question by Tues 11pm MST @:
What is Masta Ace’s government name?
If you want to submit your name for the Sittin’ On Chrome CD, answer this question by the same time:
What college did Masta Ace graduate from?
Feel free to submit answers for both if you want. I will draw winners from the correct answers on Wednesday.
When I started “This or That” (which has suffered due to the start of the NFL season), I knew it was only a matter of time before I went to the Masta Ace series. Anyone that has ever read this blog knows that I’m a borderline Ace “stan”. Masta Ace is quite possibly the most consistent artist out there today. He is also one of the few from the “Golden Age” and as far back as the late 80′s that is still making quality music and is still relevant in today’s hip hop landscape. The next three weeks, we’ll be pitting the best albums of Masta Ace against each other. There are three “eras” of Ace’s career; The Juice Crew/Cold Chillin’ era, the Delicious Vinyl era, and the M3 era. Next week we’ll pit the “new” Masta Ace albums of the M3 era, Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer. This week though, we kick things off with
After Ace graduated from the University of Rhode Island in the late 80′s, he hooked up with Marley Marl after winning a rap competition. After recording a few demo’s with Marley, he was featured on the Marley’s/Juice Crew’s In Control Vol 1. He would be a part of possibly the greatest posse cut ever recorded in the form of “The Symphony Vol.1″. From that point on, he considered as part of the Juice Crew in the tail end of their dominance. In 1990, he would drop the Marley Marl produced Take A Look Around. Full of hip hop goodness, Ace would drop classics such as the “Music Man” single, which is the track that would really capture my attention. He also had the Yo! MTV Raps “Me & The Biz”, in which is known for Ace’s duo verses as both Biz’s lyrics and his own and of course the Biz Markie puppet, that is still a hip hop heirloom. Despite being a strong album and really liking the “Music Man” track, I wasn’t all that big of an Ace fan. He would drop a great performance on the “Symphony Part II”, leading off again on a posse cut, which I actaully prefer over the first version, something I realize I’m probably greatly in the minority. It would give me a little buzz for Ace, but soon I would basically forget about “The Masta”.
I’m not totally sure what happened next, in the terms of order of occurrence. I want to say it was Ace’s track, “Wake Me When I’m Dead”, (which I’ve thought about changing the name of this blog to) on the Brand New Heavies’ “Heavies Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol 1″, that would initially get my interests up. It would be on this track that Ace would introduce to the world his “Off-beat, On-beat” style. The Ace featured on this track was different from the Ace found on Take A Look Around. Gone was the Cold Chillin’ Ace, enter the Delicious Vinyl Ace. Ace took on a darker character on the song, which would be even more visible on the DV debut Slaughtahouse. The second thing that really got me juiced for the return of Masta Ace was some freestyles he did at Big Daddy Kane’s birthday part in 1992. Again, the off-beat, on-beat style was in full effect. It was a freestyle, but it was great (you can hear part of it on end of “Crazy Drunken Style” on Slaughtahouse), as he drops lines like “MCs be soft, like the titties on a fat bitch” and other laugh out loud lines. By this time I was sold on Ace and wanted to hear anything else he put out. I was then, in the back of The Source, when it dropped the “Sure Shot Singles”, that they included “Jeep Ass Nigguh”. They printed the lyrics for the first verse, and for me, that’s all I needed.
Approach to the course and the force is centrifical
Can you find your way through the lyrics that be catchin em?
Throw another rhyme across the room, they be fetchin em
When they take a loss, take a loss to the master and
I throw crazy blows and they nose I be plasterin
All across the room, on the ceilings and the walls too
Punk muthafuckas didnt know I had the balls to
Come around their block with my cock diesel system and
Turned it up to ten and then start to dis em and
They didn’t wanna battle
If they did, when they saw me they’da open up the trunk
But they tried to ignore me
Hey muthafuckas, I know you hear me calling you
Thought you wanted some but I see that you all into
Frontin.Ain’t no future in your frontin, so Let’s Get It On
Like Marvin Gaye (hey)
Take the cash and sit it on
The hood of your bullshit, lowriding Cadillac
Back up your boys and let’s start to battle.Act
Like ya know; the Masta Ase don’t play when it come to my bass
Just those lyrics, without hearing the actual song, put me into a frenzy, waiting for Slaughtahouse to drop. The beat for “Jeep Ass Niguh” was unlike anything really out at that time as was the production for the whole album. The sound was dusty, with lots of bluesy guitars and Bomb Squad-ish bells and whistles. It was really unorthodox production on Slaughtahouse that really drew me in. As I mentioned, I didn’t deem this album classic immediately. It has really been something that has gotten better and better over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it immediately. As I mentioned previously, I don’t remember the exact day I bought it, but I’m sure if it wasn’t the day it was released, it was surely that week. My initial reaction was one of amazement, I do remember that. On May 4th, 1993, it dropped, and my view of hip hop and Masta Ace would forever be changed.
Masta Ace & Masta Ace Incorporated
Slaughtahouse Vs. Sittin’ On Chrome
As much as I love Slaughtahouse, I have a hard time remembering the day I bought it. To be honest, I can’t. I’ll chalk that up to killing to many brain cells by various ways in the past, but the impact the album had on me was on a monumental one. The uniqueness of the beats, Ace’s skills, both in terms of delivery and style, and just the overall tone of the album left a mark on me, that would allow me to play this everyday for the rest of my life and never grow tired of it.The basis for the whole album was to call out the senseless, ignorant, lyrics of the increasingly popular gangsta rap movement at the time.
The album starts off with Ace shining light on the social ills of living in the ghetto. On “A Walk Thru The Valley”, Ace drops knowledge over a Uneek beat. Immediately you are introduced to what the whole album is going to sound like. It’s a sound that is very original and unique as I don’t think you can compare it to any other that has ever been released. The shrill horns, a bluesy guitar sample and a dope piano loop sets up one of the illest intros in hip hop history. Gun shots and vocal samples fill your ears over piano keys. A sample comes on saying “Hi boys and girls, it’s a wonderful day!”, then a horn comes crying in, guitar chords of different varieties rage through out all over a familiar drum break that hits hard than a mac truck. It’s chaotic, dark, but extremely interesting all at once. Ace comes and spits more or less a spoken word, not quite a song, but not just talking, talking about the ghetto, or “…The Valley”. It’s an intro that I would know the words for before too long. How often do you learn the words to an intro? This of course leads into a skit of sorts that kind of sets of the loosely tied concept album (the first of Ace’s concept albums). Ace is teaching “hard core rap 101″, giving the students a low down on how to be “hard”, but smoking blunts, drinking 40′s and carrying a variety of guns. This leads into the cutting edge track of 1993.
Up until the “Slaughtahouse” track, Black Sheep‘s “U Mean I’m Not” was my favorite gangsta rap “spoof”, but when you first hear the Ignorant MC and MC Negro, you have to laugh and it sounds dope as fuck even though it’s a parody of itself almost. They are promoting their new LP “Brains On The Sidewalk” and screaming “MURDER MURDER MURDER KILL KILL KILL” and you just have to laugh. Of course this all could have gotten ugly in the whole west coast/east coast thing, but besides Mack 10, Ice Cube, and WC naming a joint “WestSide Slaughtahouse”, which obviously was a little jab at Ace and crew, there was never any fallout for Ace and crew. The “More Bounce To The Ounce” sample dominates the MC Negro & Ignorant MC part of the song. It then switches into more wailing guitars that give it an eerie feeling while Digga chants “Death to the wack MC’s”, and Paula Perry lets the suckas have it. The boom bap drums usher in Ace over the guitars as he tells the listener it’s not about street homicide, basically denouncing the whole played out gangsta movement that had be running rampant in hip hop since the popular success of NWA in the late 80′s.
“Late Model Sedan” has a jazzy/bluesy soundtrack backing it as Ace tells a story about a black sedan that has been taking out brothers on the block. The story takes a surprising twist as he sees some cats that he knows drive by in a stolen car, low and behold, he knows the kids in the black sedan. Some people say Ace isn’t very diverse, but tracks like this are examples why I disagree. His story telling is something that is often overlooked. “Jeep Ass Niguh” follows, which I think I’ve already covered well enough. It is a true story though that someone took Ace’s jeep back in the day while he left it running to grab something.
“The Big East” is next and one of my personal favorites from the album. Ace’s delivery and flow is different on this album than any of his other albums, which I guess is why I tend to pick this as my favorite Ace album and he really shines on this cut. A simple, yet banging beat is used, with a nice guitar lick and some more boom bap drums rule the musical goodies. We get our first full exposure to Lord Digga, who I’ve always found kind of dull lyrically, but he killed the beats as one half of the Blues Brothers on this album.
Lyrically, I won’t argue with anyone that says Ace isn’t the best lyricist out there. Shit, even he’ll admit that. But Ace is definitely above the average MC, and has a way of drawing you into any song he does. Even on some of the more “behind the scenes” joints on Slaughtahouse, such as “Jack B Nimble” or “Who U Jackin”, you can’t help but feeling yourself sucked into the story that Ace is spittin’. On the latter, you can almost feel the adrenaline flowing as the songs character is running from the crooked cops:
There’s a patrol car, they’re searchin the area
You think you’re scared now, it’s gonna get scarier
Don’t be mosin, they’re closin in kid
See what having that darker skin did
Now which way Jack, cause you need a breather
And a good lawyer, you won’t get either
Up those stairs Jack, your sister’s building
The cops will leave soon, so stay there till then
But she’s not home so you can keep on knockin
Take out a slim jim and pick the lock and
now you’re safe, can you believe those guys?
Hunting you down with such hate in their eyes
But now you can rest Jack, but oh what a mess black
Run to the bathroom, and flush away the crack
Maybe you shoulda just kept your mouth quiet
Never knew that it would cause such a riot
Peek out the window, to see who’s lurkin
Twenty cop cars, hey this ain’t workin
Again, in what might be a rather simple beat is spiced up with a little sax sample. It’s little production pieces like such as this that make the album’s production incredible. Ace takes on crooked cops as the central figure of his story is chased by cop’s looking to do him in. “Boom Bashin” is another favorite of mine, an album defining jam in all reality. I’m sounding like a rerun saying this, but more unique production makes what would be a simple beat into a quagmire audible noises as little snippets of noise are pieced together to make the boom b
ap beat a head nodder.
The Paula Perry and Ace duet comes on the tenth track with “Who U Jackin’”. Paula Perry could easily be considered my all-time favorite female MC, probably because of this album, but she comes off as a real hardrock on this track as she plays the “vic”, who happens to be the wrong girl to mess with. Ace is the stick up kid who rolls up on Paula demanding her to give up the goods. The end result is Ace gets cut by the “unfuckwitable” chick. The crew decides to roll to the club in another stand out cut, “Rollin’ Wit Umdada”, who was the extended crew at the time, that consisted of all the Inc. members along with Kid Dynamite, Euceyrok, Witch Doctor, and some other cats. We trounce along with Ace he hits up a club. It’s a jam that has many memorable lines for me and used to be one of my jams I would use to get me pumped before heading out for a night of liver damage. “Ain’t U Da Masta”, graces the listeners ears as Ace drops some of his best lyrical performance over a dope James Brown piano loop. Ace comes at everyone from wack MC’s to bullshit rap critics:
It’s the man with the mad new styles and funky poems
So strike one, strike two, strike three, you’re out
Of luck, Jack, fuck that, grab your nuts and shout
(Ain’t you the Masta?) Yep, I’ve always been
And then, I’m a stab a fucking critic with his pen
So write that, put that in your magazine and stick it
Some lyrical intoxicates show up in the form of “Crazy Drunken Style” as Lord Digga and Masta Ace drop some memorable one liners and a dope chorus. The production is….yup you guessed it, dope. A nice piano loop with drums that dominate the whole album, boom bap in it’s finest. Digga was far from a great MC, but as a hype man, he did his thing proper. After the “interlude” of sorts in the form of “Don’t Fuck Around”, we are blessed with the proper way to close out an album, with the posse cut “Saturday Night Live”. This joint was a favorite on “Yo!” back in the day and with good reason. All the MC’s do their thing right and the energy that it brings is up there with some of the more adrenaline producing jams of all time.
Sittin’ On Chrome
Two years later, Ace returned on the scene with the INC assisted, Sittin’ On Chrome. While this is probably Ace’s most successful album in terms of sales and popularity, due to the “Born To Roll”, track that blew up shortly before the album dropped, it’s also Ace’s most conflicted album among his discography. Naysayers have called Ace out for selling out to the west, being a hypocrite, among other things. Fat Joe called him out in an interview (which lead to Ace coming back with his own jab on “Top Ten List”), east coast heads were upset, but commercially, the album was the biggest success for Ace. Ace kinda took the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” route on Sittin’ On Chrome. Personally myself, it’s probably my least favorite Masta Ace project, but not for any of the reasons previously mentioned.
Once again, Ace comes with an reoccurring theme that he uses on albums to this day, and that is the concept album. Ace’s cousin from out in Cali comes to visit Ace for the summer, and their styles would soon mesh. This is captured on the album intro, as Ace explains it all, how his cousin came to visit, which basically explains the whole albums steez. This kicks off into possibly the album’s best track, “The I.N.C. Ride”. Over a rollin’ Isley Brothers “The Heat is On” sample, Ace and crew set the mood of cruisin’ down the block with the top blown and the wind rushing through your hair. And true to feelings the tracks inspires, this joint will bump with a decent car stereo. The kick drums hit hard as the sample flows effortlessly from bar to bar.
The production is handled mainly by Ace on this project along with a handful of tracks done by the Bluez Brothers, and while it’s not nearly as “unique” as that found on Slaughtahouse, it serves its purpose in combining the bass heavy west coast feel with the Brooklyn boom-bap flava. This is exemplified perfect
ly on “Eastbound”, a raw track with a simple guitar lick, horn stabs over a simple drum track. It’s a track that could easily get love on both coasts, if people were open to such a thing. One of the better tracks in the form of “What’s Going On” blesses the speakers with hard kick drums and more rather sparse production. The “B-Side” might actually be my favorite track from the album, and features Paula Perry, Leschea and Lord Digga. All compliment the track well, as the bouncy beat as they trio just spit up lyrics over the “B-Bass” (Brooklyn Bass) sound. The trio also show up again on “Ain’t No Game”, another track that would rank up among the top tracks featutred on the album. Paula Perry delivers an all-star performance on her verse, which pumped me up for a solo album that we would never see.
The west coast sound can really be heard on the single “Sittin’ On Chrome”, which Ace rides a hard funk bassline, which just oozes a west coast jam. The Eazy E sample further cements the sound, as Ace dives into the car culture that is more prevalent on the west coast than the east coast. I want to say there was an X-Rated video for this out there was well. Ace was accused of dumbing it down lyrically for Sittin’ On Chrome, and I want to say that I remember an interview in a magazine from back in the day, where Ace did admit to bring it a little less scientifical after fearing going over the top of people’s heads on Slaughtahouse. Despite this, he still brings the heat lyrically on certain tracks, such as the title track, in which he combines his Brooklyn drawl with the west coast funk:
“People In My Hood”, features a nice little concept as he raps about certain types of shady figures that can be found in his hood, or any ghetto USA. “Freestyle?” just features Masta Ace displaying probably his most lyrical performance, with lines like “call me bench warmer, cuz n—a I don’t play”, the tracks sounds and feels like something that could have been featured on Slaughtahouse or a Bootcamp Click album, thanks to the Bluez Brothers. The bassline is pretty hard and thick as it will rattle your trunk something fierce with the right set up. The brass found on the track also cuts through sound like cold steel scissors as it becomes the perfect Brooklyn backdrop.
The album ends off with several nice tracks, such as “Terror”, “Da Answer”, and “4 Da Mind”, which features the only guests from outside the crew, the Cella Dwellas. It’s all wrapped up with the “Born To Roll” track, which I’ve never been the biggest fan of and a remix for “The I.N.C. Ride”, which was the Phat Kat Ride remix, which was done by legend Louie Vega, who makes a version that easily rivals the original version. It’s a toss up on which one I like better. All in all, Sittin’ On Chrome is a quality album, it has just some of its luster and replay value for me over the years.
Yes, this should be fairly obvious which way I’m going to go with my pick. I’m biased as fuck, but only because Slaughtahouse is simply my favorite hip hop album ever created. One of the things that appeals to me, is Lord Digga and his Bluez Brothers crew as well as Uneek, Eyecerok, and others involved on the production tip.
As much as I can play Slaughtahouse, it still contains two tracks that I don’t think lived up to the rest of the album. “Mad Wunz” and “Style Wars” are the two tracks I don’t care for on Slaughtahouse. Not really sure why, but they were both fast forward material for me. Listening to “Mad Wunz” now and I’m not really sure why it was skipping fodder for me. It’s not a bad song or an easily inferior song compared to the rest of the album. “Style Wars”, was too slow for me back in the day. It’s not a bad song, but I always found the remix of this song that appeared on what is possibly my favorite single of all-time, “Slaughtahouse” cassingle, which also featured the extended versions of the title track as well as “Born To Roll”, which despite what you may read on Wikipedia, was NOT originally included on the Slaughtahouse LP. It would show up in later pressing, but it wasn’t originally a “hidden track”.
The beauty of Sittin’ On Chrome is that it is a versatile album. It’s an album that knows no boundaries or borders, it’s neither west coast or east coast. It some ways, that could be its downfall. In a world were people like to “group” things by their location, look, or sound, Sittin’ On Chrome is very hard to categorize. It contains the best of both worlds, and for fans of the bass type music, there are some nice basslines and hard hittin drums found on Sittin’ On Chrome.
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, it’s my favorite Ace album (and my favorite hip hop album of all-time) against my least favorite Ace album. That doesn’t mean I dislike Sittin’ On Chrome, it just doesn’t have the replay value for me. I played it non stop for six months or so when it dropped, I’d be okay if I never heard it again.