If you haven’t, go vote! As I’ve said numerous times, I don’t bring politics up much on this site, but I do believe firmly in voting to make your voice heard. You might say that it’s one vote and it doesn’t matter, but if everyone thought that way, shit would be ugly quick. The hip hop nation could be a very powerful influence in the American political system, just look what it does in the popular culture already. I think more so than any other election, we as hip hop heads have made more noise than ever, but we gotta follow through. If you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch about the state of this nation. Yes, there is plenty wrong with it. No, you are not going to change that by just voting, nor is it going to change with this election alone, but if we keep making our voice heard, sooner or later, shit will have to change, one way or the other. So no matter if you your state has been decided, still make your voice heard, still vote in your local government, still make a sound. That’s the public service announcement brought to you by myself and WYDU.
In what was one of the closest votes I think we’ve had since I’ve been doing “This Or That”, A Long Hot Summer, pulled it out by four votes. That means, for the grand finale, we have Slaughtahouse squaring off against A Long Hot Summer.
Sorry for the copy and paste of these two albums. Didn’t want to wait any longer after missing doing anything Sunday night, then of course the Steelers were on Monday Night Football tonight, so I just got home, after being gone since 7am this morning. No time to get too crazy with this post.
Slaughtahouse Vs A Long Hot Summer
A Long Hot Summer
By the time A Long Hot Summer dropped, I was active on one of the few hip hop related boards I visit much, mastaace.com. It was on there that I learned that Ace was going to be dropping another album, something that we had all be hoping for was coming to reality. The anticipation began to grow and by this time (2004), things were already leaking on the internet, and of course, I was faced with the choice of waiting until the album dropped in stores, or give into the suspense and give it an early listen. Never one being good at waiting, I broke down to the temptation and listen to the album early. What I heard was an album that was equally as good, if not better than Disposable Arts. At least that was my thoughts after my first few initial listens.
Once again, Ace brings a concept to the album. If you were a fan of Disposable Arts, it ends up being an interesting twist to the story found on D.A. It was a prequal, Star Wars style. Things jump off further in the story, with Ace and his boy, Fats Belvedere in a hotel room with a grip of cash and someone knocking on the door. We soon find out how and why Ace’s character was in that room. The first track, “Big City”, picks right up where Disposable Arts ends off at. Backed by a wicked Dug Infinite beat, Ace rides the acoustic canvas effortlessly as he speaks on the hustle of coming up in the Big Apple.
Following the albums jump off track is the projects first single, “Good Ole Love”. When I first heard about this track, I was pretty excited. At this point in time, 9th Wonder, who was doing no wrong in my book at this time, crafted an excellently executed beat. The strings and the vocal sample gave it that somber “on the come up” type of vibe that Ace conveys in his lyrics:
Uptown Bronx and them crooks in Queens
I work like a maid when she cooks and cleans
Cuz it’s about to be a wrap from the looks of things
The game is changed, the game is strange
The game is lame and it ain’t the same
But that’s how it is, you can ask Giz
You can ask Biz, we did it for the kids
Listen here, this is different here
If you got an eye for detail and efficient ear
I won’t disappear, I’ma keep on givin’
I’ma keep on livin’, I’ma keep bein’ driven
I’m down to earth and I’m close to ground
And spit shit better than most around
This how hip hop is supposed to sound
Tear them other cats’ posters down now
Looking back at it, I’m not sure if the track was the best choice for the lead off single, but it accomplished what Ace wanted and built the buzz for the album.
The first half of the album is near flawless, and after Fats comes on and explains his hustle and how Ace’s character plays into it, we jump into possibly the best track found on A Long Hot Summer and the albums second single, “Da Grind”. Produced by another Justus League beatsmith, Khrysis, the mellow beat sets a fat pitch down the middle of the plate. Armed with a wicked string sample, the beat is one of those that gets stick in your head and won’t leave like an unwanted guest. Ace and his homie Apocalypse discuss how hard it is to earn your living in the rap game, and just life in general. This track should be everyone’s daily song before they head out to their 9 to 5 that the dislike. I know it’s crossed my mind a few times on the way to the grind. Sometimes Ace gets criticized for his hooks, but he did the track well with this hook:
Still got my money on my mind
And I, feel like I’m walking on the line
And it, seems like I’m running out of time
That’s why I’m always on the grind
The soulful “H.O.O.D.“, brings that happy go-lucky sound as Ace brings “it ain’t all bad”, despite the shortcomings found in the hoods all around the world. This is what appeals Ace to so many people, he has always come off as the cat you would see walking down the block, that cat who your broth
er hangs out with, or the dude that is friends with your boy. He just brings that feeling to his tracks, and “H.O.O.D.” is a perfect example of that.
The track that contains one of my favorite beats of all times pops up on the scene, as Ace tells the listener to see the good in the ugly on “Beautiful”. Unknown Croatian producer, Kool Ade brings a sparse piano and a beautiful synth sample to the the forefront as Ace delivers his “Glass Half Full” message that has helped me in some tough spots. It was also the b-side to “Good Ole Love” on the first single and also was a little different, with no adlibs over the hooks. The message found on this track is one of positivity, without sounding all preachy:
This is the Yankees, 10-nothin’, killin’ the Sox
This ain’t huggin’ the block wit’ a gat in ya hand
This is Boca Raton on the Catamaran (that’s right)
With the sun beamin’ down while you sat in the sand
I feel like I’m more than a cat wit’ a plan
This feels like it’s more than a flash in the pan
This is milk in the cup and cash in ya hand
This is a warm coat on the coldest night
That’s why I stole this mic, y’all don’t hold this right (nope)
First in a class of many
This is a bottle of Jack and a glass of Henny (that’s right)
Now drink it up ’til there ain’t nothin’ left in it
I’m reppin’ it, BK, that’s a definite
There’s more of these amazing rhymes
A song like this in these days and times is beautiful
In a move that almost makes you chuckle, we go from positivity, uplifting, full of happiness, find the rainbow in the rain shower type of shit, to the “I hate you”, shit sucks, everybody die steez of “F.A.Y.”, which has also been used as a theme song of mine over the years. The ever impressive Strick comes on the assist Ace as the both scream, “fuck all y’all”, more than once. Frustration will cause even the most positive person to screw those three words, and after a bad day, this song will serve that purpose quite well.
The story progresses as Fats and Ace meet to discuss a “business venture”, before they do talk about it, Ace goes to get a soda and some soap for Fats, which leads into a fan favorite of “Soda & Soap”. Produced by the talented DJ Spinna and backed by Jean Grae, who had an impressive showing on “Hold U” from Disposable Arts. I’ve never been crazy about the song, but I know a lot of you will disagree. An interesting guest appearance from Big Noyd blesses the next track, but it actually works rather well. “Do It Man” was a track that I would have considered my favorite at one time. Marco Polo brings the heat with his own trademarked sound, and serves as a the rough and rugged Brooklyn streets anthem.
Ace brings a track that, to me, is the same vien as “Bonita Applebum”, “Ms. Fat Booty” and other ghetto love tales in “Brooklyn Masala”, which ironically enough features Ace’s own wifey on the tracks adlibs. Over a spacey, airy beat, Ace spits a story about meeting a middle eastern cutie while coming out of the bodega. He spits game to the cutie and ends up taking her out for a date. Nothing like a little bodega love story to add to the story.
We find out what the scheming Fats Belvedere wants, as he hits up Ace about going on tour with him as a cover for some shit he has going on, involving credit cards and the such. After Ace sees into the plan and Ace offers up some tokens of appreciation, in the name of a big screen TV, Ace is down. This jumps into the Punch and Words assisted “Travelocity”, which I’ve never saw anything breathtaking about. “The Ways” is the next track and is produced by DJ Ody-Roc. Another solid track that adds to the story, but again, nothing more than a good track. This leads into the track that is making me eagerly await the recently announced A&E project, between Ace and Edo G. “Wutuwankno”, has the two grizzled veterans bringing out the best in each other. They spit game over a beautifully produced Dug Infinte beat, discussing the way it is and their place in the game. The chorus is sung by Ace, who does a fine job at it and it is also probably the reason I dig the song so much.
As the story goes on, Ace and Fats get busted and Ace ends up in the clink. The final two songs, the Beatnuts assisted “Oh My God” which surprises the listener that it isn’t a Beatnuts beat. It’s nice, but somewhat unnecessary, albeit, this is probably the only song that would fall into that category. The end of the album “Revelations”, is Ace’s answer to “Dear Diary” and “No Regrets” found on Disposable Arts. It’s heartfelt, but doesn’t really match the two previously mentioned songs. If it came before, I’m sure it would be the one everyone talked about four years later.
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 bap 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.
Picking a Masta Ace album for me is like picking a favorite sibling, a favorite child, a favorite Pittsburgh Steeler, I just like them all. But in the end, when you claim Slaughtahouse as your all-time favorite album, you just have to stay with it. As great as an album A Long Hot Summer is, I have to go with Slaughtahouse. I’m not sure how this vote will go. It will come down to an age difference I believe, anyone over thirty will probably go with Slaughtahouse, and anyone under thirty will be backing A Long Hot Summer. We shall see.