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"

No comments:

Post a Comment