Masta Ace

Somehow, some way, amid all the talk of shaggy bands like the Strokes and the White Stripes saving rock and roll from its absurdly glamorous self and Alicia Keys inspiring roughneck sistas all over the country to take up the piano, Masta Ace managed to put out a hip-hop album that wowed critics last year. Hell, it even appeared on a couple of ten-best lists. But when you think about it, it wasn't really all that difficult for someone like Ace to stand out from the field of bling-bling bullshit. Finding a halfway-decent hip-hop album last year was just about as forlorn a hope as that of a comic store clerk yearning for a closing-time booty call from Kirsten Dunst.

Disposable Acts (Yosumi/JCOR) not only marked the return of the Brooklyn-born Ace, a man with enough hip-hop history on his shoulders to leave him permanently hunchbacked, but also reintroduced the determination, dedication and joy that used to prevail in rap and hip-hop. Only an old-school pro like Ace could bring hip-hop back to its less materialistic senses. After all, this is a man who started out in the Juice Crew (the Algonquin Round Table of rap), which also included Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie and infamous MC Roxanne Shanté.

In 1993 he went solo, formed Masta Ace Incorporated and left Cold Chillin' Records. He signed with Delicious Vinyl in the early '90s and released two records, both of which -- 1993's Slaughtahouse and 1995's Sittin' on Chrome -- were rereleased last year on Rhino. But the man's fans should've known -- his self-imposed exile notwithstanding -- that this wouldn't be the last they'd hear from Masta Ace. Thankfully, the reissues served as an appetizer for the main course: the return of an MC whose skills have only strengthened with time.

Now let's see a Cash Money Millionaire pull that shit off ten years down the line!

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Craig D. Lindsey
Contact: Craig D. Lindsey