Thursday, March 14, 2013

A is for Adele "19"

Sorry for the delay in writing.  Work has been a little crazy for my life schedule, which means I needed an excuse for being extremely lazy in my personal journey.  I feel like the hare who decided to take a nap instead of just finishing the race.  The sad part is that I am finding more of myself reflected within this task than I thought I would.  The introspection and inspection, but also the lack on undivided attention.  Oh well.

The next album on my list is Adele's "19."  The hard part of trying to write about an album that almost everyone has heard is writing about an album that almost everyone has heard.  Whether it be the whole thing or just a couple tracks, I'm sure everyone knows about this album.  This and the next album.  I'm not really going to go too into this album by the tracks because, well, I don't feel like it. (Plus, I won't really add any tracks, because well, I'm sure you've heard them).

I will tell you what I think about it, though.  I remember when this came out.  There was that sudden burst of euro-blues, which means that a bunch of Brits tried to capture the sound of American r&b, but just couldn't quite pull it off.  The main reason they can't is because they don't know what it's like to live rural American hard times.  While I'm sure that Brits get the blues, they just don't get what the hard times we have are like.  They listen to the sounds, the styles, and the records, but they don't know the source.  What it's like to live in the middle of nowhere Missouri or the life of Mississippi Delta blacks or Southern mountain folks with super small roots.  What is sad is that the Brits love our rooted music more than we do.  They practice the sounds and perfect the notes, but they don't truly embrace the soul.  We love the sounds they make and buy their albums by the crate full, but we don't appreciate the people in our own backyards making the same music.  That is the British way.  You take the best from the rest of the world, while telling everyone they are lesser than you for it.  Have you ever heard real, authentic British music?  Really, have you?  Seriously think about it for a moment.

Name any great true British band.  Beatles?  American R&B.  Rolling Stones?  Led Zeppelin?  The Who?  The Police?  Nope.  Nada.  No way. Uh-uh.  Here in the states we have created all the sounds that everyone else wants.  Let's see.  Jazz is the truest American form of music.  It's roots come from Scott Joplin and ragtime, the original American music.  While country comes from mountain music which comes from old style European music, you can not name one foreign country musician.  Rock and Roll is ours, thanks to Chuck Berry.  R&B comes from gospel music, while also having roots in Delta Blues music.  Rap music from  R&B and one of the fastest growing styles of music for foreign countries.  I've heard German, French, Asian hip hop.  Never before there was rap were there foreign rappers.  Just saying.  The majority of the worlds music has major roots here in the states.  I mean shit, even parts of disco and techno come from here.  While the Euros might have started the major djing of it, they still used American records to make the desired beats.

This is not what I truly feel about Adele's music in all, but I know where the roots are.  Not to say she doesn't blossom all her own, because she does.  I never truly listened to this album until last night.  I was, and am still, amazed at it.  Not because of her range (which is incredible), but because I was expecting something different for a debut album.  Usually when a female singer debuts, there is more heartbreak and drama or the flip side, nothing but love and sugar.  This album has little of both.  This album is honest.  It is about her life, but not exaggerated for sales.  There is no dark side to her on "19."  Like I said, it's honest.

I also like the variety.  She uses the mellowness of soul music, while also finding great ways to showcase a 70's style r&b.  I like the piano and organ usage throughout the album.  It shows an appreciation for the roots of her style without trying to over do it.  There isn't a lot I feel I can really say about the album that hasn't already been said.  I like the album, but I would have to be in a certain mood in order to really listen to it.  I'm not going through a breakup or in love, so the album doesn't have a specific fit for my life right now.  For me, it's more of a mellow chilled out album that shows how beautiful music can be, if we truly allow it to be just that, music.

Next: Adele "21" - like you haven't heard this one.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A is for Acid House Kings "Music Sounds Much Better With You

Okay, so here's the deal.  I listened to this for the first time while cleaning my bathroom today.  I think I might still be high from the bleach/cleaner fumes because the fan doesn't work.  I'm not knocked out loopy, but the ventilation sucks.  Upon starting the music, I was wondering about how the album would sound.  I can't remember what lead me to get it.  I don't know if I saw it on Pitchfork or a song was played during a TV show I like.  Whatever the case, this is my impression of the album.

First - DO NOT CALL YOURSELVES "ACID HOUSE KINGS" IF YOU DON'T PLAY ELECTRO!!!  Sorry, for yelling but I just had to say it.  You can't be a pop band and call yourself a techno band name.  I mean, for reals, "acid house?"  You couldn't come up with something better?  Would you listen to a pop band named "Whore Beater?"  Well, you say you don't but I say you listen to Chris Brown, so...Face!!  You wouldn't listen to a christian rock group called "Whitey is Rightey?"  No, you wouldn't because you would assume with a title like that it would be a hate rock band.  I'm just saying, the band name is way off base.

Secondly - It is a pop rock album.  The band started in the early 90s, but this albums music follows in the footsteps of Camera Obscura, a little bit of Phoenix, and others similar.  Not to say it's a bad theme to follow, but there seems to be little variation in some of the originality.  The band is pretty decent. I wouldn't say I would run to see them, but I could see their music being used in a tv show/movie to help set the light-hearted mood.  I'm not a big "pop" fan, but I'm sure we'll see more in the future.

As for the album, it's not too bad.  The arrangements seem pretty standard, but the band finds a way to provide some shine of it's own.  The lead female vocal, Julia Lannerheim, has a wonderfully soothing voice.  You find yourself being relaxed and calmed throughout the album.  The problem that I have the whole time I listen to her voice it that I keep thinking of a different singer or band.  I just can't put my finger on who it is.  That's the problem with pop bands, you find yourself reminded of others more than focusing on the present band.  Whether it's the lead from Camera Obscura or Regina Spektor, I'm not sure.

The album starts with "Are We Lovers or Are We Friends."  I don't know if this is the world's introduction to the friendzone anthem or not, but it should be.  The only problem with this question is that you know, you just don't want to accept the answer.  It has a Rooney-esc sound, which is pretty nice.  It's very catchy and I kind of like it.  "Windshield" follows and keeps up with the tradition of late 2000s pop sound.  For me there isn't much of a highlight to this, "Would You Say Stop," or "Under Water."

The song that I actually enjoy the most is "(I'm in a) Chorus Line."  It reminds me of a song I know, but I like that this separates itself from it.  I'm attracted to the catchiness of the piano keys and the periodic flute(?).  The lyrics are simple and poetic.  They come across with a nice range and are sung beautifully.

"There is Something Beautiful," comes a couple tracks down and starts with a hope but does not come through the way I thought it would.  With more focus on the vocals at the beginning, I thought, maybe prayed a bit, for a mellower "rough relationship" song.  Instead, the drums start and pick up the up tempo of the beat.  Dammit.

All in all, I should have paid more attention to the album title more than the band name.  "Music Sounds Much Better With You" should have been more of a give away than anything else.  While a whole album of the same sound is very aggravating, I actually liked one or two tracks.  I don't know when I will ever really listen to this again.  I do know that if I am in the mood for pop music, I can always throw this on, or at least make a mix tape with it involved.

ps- just make sure you have a better band name, please.

Next: Adele "19" - (I know)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A is for Aceyalone 'Magnificent City"

The last album in our journey of Aceyalone ends with "Magnificent City."  It's not his latest album nor is it the follow up to "Book of Human Language."  This is the only one of his albums I actually own on CD.  I don't remember when I got this album, but I feel that I was pulled to the album cover more than anything else and that was why I bought it.  Sometimes you strike gold when you search just by artwork.  Sometimes you get straight hot garbage.

The album starts with "All For U" and does a nice job of mixing both his jazz beats and scratching into the beat.  The lyrics "It took me a long while to master the art" might be more of an understatement rather than humbleness.  The guy has mastered this art for quite some time, but he has received little acclaim.  "I am what I am, but that ain't all I can be."  Sometimes when people wax poetic, you don't realize the Taoist/Yoda wisdom that you hear.  Luckily for all of us, not only does Aceyalone perform for us, but he helps heal us just a bit.  "Fire" starts just like it should, sounding like an old-school Earth, Wind, and Fire track.  The old school 70s sound is a nice change from his standard jazz beats.  The lyrics on the track are smooth and I love that about it.  Maybe it's the production by RJD2 that is making a bit of the difference on this album, but it is a good change from his past.  Once again, "Fire" provides you with the wisdom of you mother and the sage older uncle from you family.  "Love life, let it love you back." (just so you know, I'm the sage uncle in my family)

"Cornbread, Eddie, and Me" starts out significantly harder than any other track that Aceyalone has done in my opinion.  The problem is that whenever I read this title, I automatically think of Lawrence Fishburn's first movie, "Cornbread Earl and Me."  Even though they aren't related, the track always makes me think of the movie.  Maybe it's a song about the streets and life accordingly, but I couldn't tell you cause I'm always distracted when I hear the song.  "Mooore" returns us to RJD2's beats.  It is "electronic" and elongated.  The rhyme is thus drawn out as well.  Acey finds his way to slow down himself just enough that when the song is finished you want exactly just what has been provided, more.  I love the beat on this track and the compatability of Acey on the track.

"Supahero" starts out like the anticlimactic scene in a hero movie.  It's slow building, giving the listener the moment to be drawn in.  You know that the action is about to start, but you don't know when.  You can feel the energy building and then, boom, it hits. The only thing is that RJD2 doesn't hit you hard, he gives you a couple of soft blows here and there.  Acey starts a little light as well, but then he hits you hard with a smooth flow.  He preaches about where superman ain't, telling you that "he's your star, but you're looking for a supahero."  Kind of a lesson for everyone out there to understand that when you look past everything for a superhero, you're going to miss the stars in your life.  "You need a star in your life/not in your dreams."  If there was ever a verse that made every "friendzoned" guy feel like someone was talking for them, this is it.  Well done, sir.  "Highlights" is well, a song about weed.  All sorts of weed.  Aceyalone names all the street names for all kinds of weed.  Then he provides a diatribe about the government and the benefits of medical marijuana, plus numerous pop culture names.  It's a chilled out track that takes its form from the subject matter.

The album kicks up the beat with "Disconnected."  The horns come in a little harder and the drums provided the tension that the lyrics vent.  Outside of the reference to shoot for the moon and land among the stars (which I hate), Aceyalone explains how we all feel disconnected.  Not in a manner of technology, but in our minds.  The thing that makes us special is also the thing that makes stand out.  That sometimes also makes us socially "disconnected" from the "mainstream" ideas.  It's a solid track, but sometimes the preaching gets a little long.

"Some birds don't deserve to be caged/They gotta fly away and search for the waves/Being locked up is worse than the grave" is how "Caged Birds" begins.  After the mellow beginning, the Christmas bells start up and RJD2 turns up the speed of the beat.  Acey does a nice job on the track, and it is a nice change from "Disconnected."  Following this track is a "story" song.  "Solomon Jones" reminds me more of a Phish song than a hip hop song.  If you've ever heard the "Junta" album by Phish, then you mind understand where the reference comes from.  Both DJ and MC do a great job of transporting you to a smokey dive bar in the back alley of a random town you've never been to.  It's a perfect change of pace and I love when artist are comfortable enough with themselves to put tracks like this out.  If the smokey haze of "Solomon Jones" gets you all times of mellow, then "A Sunday Mystery" will put you straight onto your couch and relax everything within you.  You see, this track is an interlude.  While old school emcees would have their DJ do a scratch and mix for a couple minutes on their albums, new school cats are afraid to put anything that doesn't have words out.  It is nice to get a moments reprieve when listening to any album

"Junior" is the story of any kid living today.  Whether it is a story about someone factually or not, it ends up being a true story about city life.  The RJ beats are great.  The flute or woodwinds behind the drums help provide a softness to the track.  In the end of the story, though, you know that Junior is not going to make it.  What a sad shame.  "Heaven ain't got no stairway/Heaven ain't got no ghetto" is the opening for "Heaven."  I find it funny to use a Led Zeppelin verse as well as a Tupac reference.  The track is soft spoken, as if Acey meant to use a muted tone and just speak to us as apposed to his usually flow.  Plus, the guitar samples used by RJ are nice as well.

"Here and Now" starts out with a soft keyboard touch and then harp strings kick it.  It reminds me a lot of Gift of Gab's "4th Dimensional" start.  The nice guitar riffs, reminiscent of 70s, funk is a great addition as well.  I find that I am so attracted to the beats that I miss out the lyrics.  Not to say that they aren't nice, it's just hard for me to not notice the beat each time.  This is a nice mellow track that does what Acey does best, give us advice and preach about lessons for life.  You don't always need the advice, but sometimes it's nice to hear it.

The album closes with "A Beautiful Mine."  Upon first hearing it, I always go "Holy shit" when the opening sample appears.  So here is where I'm going to go crazy on you.  What I love about hip hop are the random samples that you hear and then all you want to do is learn where it comes from.  The samples then become the ultimate gateway into learning both new and more music.  Plus, the added respect you get for DJs and producers becomes more heightened when you look at what the hell it is they are sampling.  For this song, I will give you nothing more that this:  RJD2 uses the sample "Autumn Leaves," by Enoch Light.  You don't know this song until I tell you it is the theme music for Mad Men.  Yes, RJD2 sampled a track that ended up being used for an AMC show.  Here is where it gets even crazier.  Enoch Light did not do the original.  His version is actually a cover.  I'm not sure when his version came out, but I found at least one recording done in 1956 from the album "The Paris I Love."  The original version, that many use as reference, is done by Yves Montand, titled "Les Feuilles Mortes," which technically means "The Dead Leaves."  This is why I love hip hop so much.  Where else are you going to learn about jazz history as well as French music.  Below are all three versions.

I hope you are able to enjoy all of this as much as I do.

Next: Acid House Kings  - "Music Sounds Better With You"

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A is for Aceyalone - "The Lost Tapes"

When I was in college long ago, there was a record store down the street from my dorm.  Some days I wonder if it is still there, but I'm sure it is.  What I loved about that store was the availability to buy "live" bootleg albums.  In the business these are mostly refered to as imports because they are usually recorded from live shows done overseas.  When ever I would go into said record store, I would talk to the owner about different types of music and peruse the import section to see what was new.  I have had the pleasure of being able to own a couple of awesome albums, but over time they have ended up lost.

I visited my brother years ago and he took me to meet a friend of his, Travis, so we could hang out and relax.  Travis is one of the main reasons that I have all the music that I own.  We "borrowed" each others music and ever since then I have been amazed at the stuff I am listening to.  One of the albums he lent me was Aceyalone's "Lost Tapes."  Lost Tapes is not a real album that has been released by the artist or the record company.  It is through and through a hodgepodge of different recorded tracks over a period of time.  Some of these tracks are live freestyles from radio stations or tracks that just never got released.  For me, the true highlights of albums like these are the live, on-air radio freestyles. They allow you to hear the instantanious thought process of an artist.Albums like this allow fans to get an insight to the actual ability of the stars.  Usually the only place to find any of these tracks is off of youtube, but at the same time, you would have to know the titles of the tracks because they are never listed anywhere.

The hard part of albums like this is that you truly have to deal with some of the crap that tends to be on them.  Whether its a horrible remix or a track that should never have been done.  Or even worse, a track that has tons of potential but no thought was put into any part of the production.  Overly bassed or too much static feedback are the usual suspects in cases like this.

Aceyalone's "Lost Tapes" is a really decent import.  It opens with another remix of "Mic Check," but we don't need to go into any part of this track.  The second track is called "Perfect Romance" and I really dig it.  The lyrics are well thought out and the beat is solid.  It's a shame that it gets lost onto a tape like this. 

"Double Dose" follows with a Project Blowed track.  Project Blowed is a collaberation between Aceyalone,  his crew Freestyle Fellowship, and many other LA underground emcees. It is a decent track, but nothing to amazing nor devestating. Tracks like this make me a little sad. I think I would rather be completely blown away or disappointed by something than to be left in a blazah blazah state. "The Greatest Show on Earth" follows with a remix by Fat Jack. I actually feel that I've heard this remix on the "All Balls Revisited" album.  The track "OG Crew" is a bit of a misplaced title for me.  When I think of many things "OG," Aceyalone is not one of them.  Plus the manner in which the hook is really mellow, doesn't fit with it as well.  Now, the "Headaches and Woes" remix provides a pretty decent opening beat reminiscent of the early 80s.  I feel that a Afrika Bambata breakdance battle is about to occur with this beat.  It is a nicely done remix, cause the lyrics match up pretty nicely with the slowed down beat.  The next two tracks, "Feet Up on the Table" and "Show Your Right," were released on "All Balls Revisited," so there is no need to discuss them.

"High and Bye" is the next track and it is a shame it never got released anywhere.  It's low key and mellow in the right places.  Now the hook is a little weak, but the beat and lyrics are well done and flow effortlessly.  The album ends with two more radio freestyles and remixes of previously recorded tracks that are decent, but nothing amazing in the reworking.  One of the closing tracks is a highlight for the album because it is an untitled demo track.

One of the hardest things to get a hand on are demo tracks.  These are the tracks that allow you to hear where the pure intensity, integrity, and artistic passion come from.  Before any producer can adjust and tweak an artist into whatever it is you hear now.  Demos are amazing and should always be released.

All in all, I love "import" albums and am happy to have this one.  If you are a fan of music, find your local record store and ask them about imports.  One of the amazing things about imports is that you get little presents wrapped up and ready for you to open.  Like an artist doing a live cover of a song that you never thought they would do.  Sorry there aren't more links with the tracks, but this is a hard one to locate tracks for.

Next album: Aceyalone - "Magnificent City"

Monday, March 4, 2013

A is for Aceyalone - "The Book of Human Language"

Aceyalone - The Book of Human Language

I was first introduced to this album a long time ago by either Newsweek or Time magazine.  All I remember was that they did a list of the 25 greatest hip hop albums of all time.  Now I know that magazines like these tend to have a skewed idea of what hip hop is but I found that I respected their list, mainly because it listed Erik B and Rakim's "Paid In Full" number one.  Also on the list was a random album by a guy I never had heard of named Aceyalone.  The album is "The Book of Human Language."  In the years that I've had it on my i-tunes, I have never listened to it.  Mostly because I'm too busy looking for more new stuff.  I'm a historian, which means I should be better at appreciating the art of the past more and not ignoring it while I dig for the greatness of the future.

Acey starts the album with a low key intro that helps get you calm.  It relaxes you just enough, similar to the manner that you would relax yourself before you sit down to read a book.  It's a perfect start.  It ends with the disclaimer that "this song right here did not make my album, but it's my mfing theme song."  The end beat becomes the beat for...

"Guidelines" is how you start an album.  Effortless is the best way to describe the lyrical flow.  The beat is complete and fluid.  From the start you can feel the growth of the artist and appreciate the time put into the refinement of his skills.  "My attempts to redefine your hip hop guidelines."  As I listen to this, I hope that the album can live up the guidelines.  The use of simile is unbelievable.  I truly applaud this opening track.  Following this track is "Contents," which in essence is a quick interlude in which Acey runs down and names all the tracks for the album.

"Even the matador doesn't pull the bull by the horn."  The opening verse for "The Balance," is very much a yin-yang story.  For every positive, he gives the balanced negative.   What I love about this track is the smoothness of everything.  I love the congo/bongo drums used for the background beat.  I grew up listening to go-go music from the DC area, so I love the drums.  Plus, the intricate piano usage at the end to help finish the song is nicely done.  Right away you can tell that this album was given a true and honest use of time and effort.

Two things about "The Energy."  First, I love how the track finishes with the title of the following track and jumps right into it.  Secondly, this track is everything I love about hip hop.  It starts with a beat that reminds me of a Jeru the Damaja track.  Then the lyrics begin, and more importantly, they don't end until the track finishes.  That is true lyricism.  Throw in the fact that the beat stops and begins at different times while Aceyalone keeps on pushing.  This shows his energy and it is full and flowing.

(all I could find was this live version.)
"The Hurt" is given a tough task and that is following "The Energy."  I don't really feel that it has matched the majority of the album so far, mostly because it continues his usage of slam poetry mcing.  The opening of "The Hold" is pretty nice.  I like the use of snare drums in beats and a solid bass string.  "The Hold" is a lesson of what happens when we hold on too tight as well as the benefit of letting go of the things we hold onto.  "No matter what my opinion is, it's all strenuous."  This track is one of those lessons about life that everyone wants to give us, but we can never learn unless we go through it.  I really like the beat for this track.  "The Wall & Window" title reminds me of a totally different song by someone else.  "The walls have ears, the windows have eyes, and a dead man tells no lies."  A creepy way to start a track only to be followed by an ominous beat is how this track begins.  Acey gives us the story of everything that walls and windows have done, literally.  Giving reference to the Berlin Wall and how eyes are the "windows" into the soul.  The amazing thing about Aceyalone on this track, and throughout, is his ability to take the literal meaning of the title and give you every single possible reference to said words.

"The Jabberwocky" meets us just about halfway.  It is a deep voiced story about the Jabberwocky.  It sounds similar to Jeru the Damaja's character "Ignorance" from the track "You Can't Stop the Prophet."  The album so far could have done without this little interlude.

The voice actually provides the intro to a strongly beat drum for "The Grandfather Clock."  The lyrics remind us that man can do all he can to control the world, but the time and tide waits for no man.  "Tick tock, my grandfather clock goes..."  The beat reminds me of a metronome beating on time to let you know that you are off beat.  I like the somewhat Poeish darkness of this track.

"The Reason" helps lighten the mood from the previous tracks.  With an old school organ and horns sound playing in the background, this might be the one time I'm happy to hear a spoken word track.  Nicely done, my friend, nicely done.  "I was born!!" helps us welcome in "The March."  It is a track about marching against others and deciding who you would march for.  "The Vision" gives us another poetry slam verse about life and what Aceyalone sees.  The clarinet, I think, is a nice addition to the beat as well.

While I listen to this, I realize certain things.  First, this album is a true lesson on how to use the human language.  It reminds me of a book about the history of the English language.  Aceyalone provides a graduate school lesson on it and there are very few that will ever understand everything that he says.  Secondly, whoever listed this album as a top 25 all time deserves to have drinks bought for them for the rest of their lives.  This album is unbelievable.  I still have 5 tracks to listen to but feel that I can not do it justice to explain anything left.

This album should be owned by anyone who says they love hip hop.  If you have never owned Raekwon's seminal masterpiece "Only Built For Cuban Linx," or The Purple Tape, then don't talk to me about hip hop.  Now, I can add a secondary argument.  If you have never heard "The Book of Human Language," then never talk to me about how dope an emcee is.

It is a shame that this album doesn't get the true respect it deserves.  Maybe that might be why it is a masterpiece. To never be understood in your time, but to be a lasting influence on the lives of others for many generations is a goal very few can accomplish.  If you are an aspiring emcee and you want to understand how depth and creativity and genius all can live together in one individual in one album, then "The Book of Human Language" is the first "book" you should read.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A is for Aceyalone "All Balls Revisited"

Aceyalone "All Balls Revisited"
(click on some of the track titles to be transported to the videos for them)

So, Aceyalone made a follow up album of his "All Balls Don't Bounce."  It is actually more of a release of all the other tracks that he didn't use on the debut album.  It includes four remixes of tracks from the original album as well.  This is pretty ingenious since many artist find that a good number of their material is not deemed "good enough" for album releases.  The album actually comes with two intros.  The "All Balls Intro" is more of an announcement about the purpose of the album while "Universal Soldier" is a low key intro to the album.

Throw in the fact of the "live" intro to "Headaches and Woes," the album actually starts with three intros.  The first real track is a remix of "Headaches and Woes."  While the original is loaded with xylophones and jazz drums, the remix is decidedly slower.  The jazz and xyloplone notes are replaced with horns and elongated chill vocals.  As the original felt more upbeat, this has a feel of "anger" but not emotional anger.  Like someone yelling at you without them raising their voice, the remix is well done.  The key to any remix is a focus on making a completely different track while trying to retain attention on the story.

"The Greatest Show on Earth" remix follows next.  The original comes across like a poetry slam accompanied by a live dive bar jazz band.  Beatniks hang out in the dark corners smoking their cigarettes, sipping cocktails, and snapping fingers while a low light illuminates the corners of the stage while the song plays.  The remix comes faster, but not with an overbearing crazy speed.  The drums are more focused and you can hear the scratch being used in the song.  It's a lost art, scratching in a song, and it is a pleasure to hear it again.  Like the remix before, this track finds a way to erase the original notion of the track while creating an equally beautiful track.

"Mic Check" is remixed for the track.   The original is a distinctly late 80s/early 90s style.  It makes me think a little bit of a Teddy Riley beat, but only when the horn comes in during the chorus.  This remix follows more of a Lords of the Underground sound.  You hear the needle jumping on the record, providing you with that hiss sound that tells you the album is over or your neddle is dirty.  You hear the drums come in with a dark ominous sound.  It's like you know that something is coming, but you don't know what it is.  You feel the presence of something looming.  You look for it and can't find it.

After these first "four" tracks, the album actually provides what was proclaimed from the beginning, original tracks omitted from "All Balls Don't Bounce."  The track "Show Your Right," sounds very early/mid 90s non-mainstream California sound.  I hear elements of Too Short in the lyrical delivery and I like it.  Not because it's unoriginal for Aceyalone's style, but because I hear range.  In comparison to other tracks he has done, this stands out because it is no where close to the style I know.  "The Nobodys" comes in nicely next.  With a solid drum, keyboard, and horn intro, the song track comes smooth and correct.  If you want to make a track you jazz sounds correctly without sounding like a beatnik, then this is how you do it.  It's hard for me to focus on the lyrics because I love this beat.  The song is also a lesson for life because he tells us that we should never let "nobody" tell us shit.  This track should have been on the debut album and it is a shame that it wasn't.  This would have shown the range in lyrics and beats that would have astounded many.

"They Don't Know."  I feel that either his producer or a friend does the verbal intro.  I could have done without it.  Then the piano starts.  You know how I feel about pianos.  Always a winner.  Then the horns arrive with the same note performance.  Smooth and complete.  Then it changes to a modern jazz joint.  If Aceyalone was standing in front of a crowd with a tux on performing with a live band, ala Cab Calloway, then this track would be the one he would do.  This is not a hip hop/rap track.  This is a jazz joint.  I love it.  It doesn't really compliment his other works, but I feel that it shows roots and influence.  Like the way that Guru did the Jazzmatazz albums, Aceyalone could have made a successful series of albums done in this way.  It's a shame, but I feel that I am a better man for having heard it.  I guess nobody knew about his true talents.

When "Feet Up on the Table" started, I thought I heard a voice or two I knew.  Now I know that neither Del the Funky Homosapien nor The Pharcyde are on this track, but that was my first feeling.  The beat makes me think of Pharcyde a lot, as does the rhyming style but it turns out that it's cats from his crew.  If you know who Pharcyde is then you will understand what it is that I hear.  It's a nice track that shows Aceyalone's ability to contribute to "current" styles.  Plus, a crew song is a hard thing to pull of, but this one does a good job.

"Tweakendz" follows up with the same mentality of a "current" song.  The beat reminds me of an old 80s beat but I just can't put my finger on it.  The track follows the tradition of hip hop's "weekend" story.  It's nowhere close to either Ice T or Ice Cube's weekend tracks.  Big props for the MC Shan sample.  "If your girl's out of place."  No all I can think about with this track is early 80s hip hop.  Throw in the elongated "Now I was," which is how Kool Moe Dee used to start tracks and I really miss 80s hip hop.  It was smart of them to not use this track because all I feel is nostalgia for old school rap.

"I Dream" is the second to last track.  It's a decent track but does not sound natural to Aceyalone's style.  I think the beat is nice, but could have been used better.  Honestly, I find the track a little weak.  The closing track finds us reunited a bit with Acey's use of jazz as an honest back beat.  It too is a lesson song.  Closing with the track "Belive in Yourself," he tells us what we should be doing while explaining what he did.  The chorus is a little weak and the sample should be more of a focus.  It could have worked on his debut album, but I like it here as well.  "You can't hide cause you're not Dr. Jekyll/but you can come out shining like a new nickel."  I like that.  Well played sir, well played.

I think this album is decent, but for a "remix/reissue" album it does it's job.  It's good to see his range and variety, but at the same time it is nice to understand why I appreciate him the way I do.  I know that the next album is an all-time great.  I don't know what to anticipate nor do I want to.  I hope to be blown away, but I hope that I get blown away by it ALL.  That has yet to happen, but I believe it will.

Next:  Aceyalone "A Book of Human Language"