Aceyalone - All Balls Don't Bounce
So after writing about Abstract Tribe Unique's "Mood Pieces," I find myself kind of excited to review Aceyalone's first album, "All Balls Don't Bounce." I guess you could say that Acey might be the "founder" of a specific type of rhyming and sound that came out of LA in the mid to late '90s. All Balls was released in 1995. It is not the origin of jazz-infused hip hop, but to me he kinda is.
The album is pretty decent for a debut release. First off, I appreciate the variation of beats, message, sound, etc, that is prevalent throughout the album. There are distinct tracks that have a pure jazz, spoken word sound. Then there are others that have a little bit harder driven beat. On the track "Knownots," you can hear both sounds at the same time. This shows me that there is an appreciation to the art while at the same time being honest to self.
The majority of the tracks have a focus on the horns found in jazz samples. There is little use of the bass strings and drums, but on "Arhythamaticulas," you get that use. On "The Greatest Show on Earth," you get the bass lines and what sounds like an xylophone. Never do you hear that on a track. But at the same time, you get the overly styled poetry slam emceeing that I personally find a bit repetitive. "Mic Check" might be the most "commercialized" style of a track on the album. Between the snares and faster tempo of the drums, I hear to me what sounds a little like a Beastie Boys style track, if they were from the left coast. It's nice to hear a completely different sound from Aceyalone. Following "Mic Check," you get privileged to a sound that you don't find on albums these days, that is, a dj mixing for a quick minute to give the listeners a rest.
(straight from the 90s in sooo many ways)
"Headache and Woes," is a nice in between to the poetry slam emceeing and the "we need a song for the masses" track that maybe "Mic Check" might be. While the second verbage is not accurate, I don't know a better way to word it. My apologizes. What I like about "Headache and Woes" is 1) more xylophone usage, 2) solid bass line, and 3) a track with a solid story. "With a head full of headaches/a heart that's full of woes/I'm constantly singing them down home blues/and not many peoples know/that leaves me with a twisted view of the whole world as I know it/and I guess I got no choice but to be a poet." What a wonderfully worded verse. This song is solid in more ways that I can ever really explain, but I really like it. The downside to the track, is that the end of it tapers off to a moment of "dead air" and then followed by a quick poem with the bebop jazz background. It should have been left off or separated as a quick intermission track. "I Think" is a quick hitter of a track that starts off solidly with a bit of an old-school blaxploitation sound and then is over. I wish that there was more to this track than any other.
While he flows at times slowly, I love the effortlessness of his vocals. He can speed up at anytime, but never lose the focus of the words he is professing. Plus, you are always aware of what he is saying every time he speaks.
I thoroughly enjoy this album, but it is not an eye-opening, jaw dropping rookie album that I think I was slightly expecting. It might come from being stuck in that time period when hip hop was changing rapidly in both sound and purpose. That is, the mid 90s were not kind to artists who could adapt and produce quickly. Aceyalone will always get his respect from "heads" who know the music. I wish he would get more love, but hopefully we can see his growth on the next couple of albums. I can't guarantee when I will listen to this again, but I know that if I were to make a mix tape there are tracks from this album I would use. Plus, if anyone wanted a lesson on how to transpose jazz, poetry, and effortless lyricism into hip hop then this is always to be included into the circulum.
Next: Aceyalone's "All Balls Revisited"