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Masta Ace

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  • Born: Brooklyn, NY
  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

With an impressive resume in rap that includes membership in the legendary Juice Crew (along with Marley Marl, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, and Craig G) and a verse on the 1988 classic posse cut "The Symphony," Brooklyn's Masta Ace is truly an underappreciated rap veteran and underground luminary. Two years after "The Symphony," Ace released his debut album Take a Look Around on rap's version of the Motown label, Cold Chillin' Records. While not a huge commercial success the album spawned a hit single and video for "Me and the Biz" which popped up on many popular rap video shows in the late '90s for nostalgia's sake. The album has Marley Marl's keen production aura all over it and also features a guest appearance from the Biz himself. After three years on the hush, Ace returned to the fold in 1993 this time with his crew as Masta Ace Incorporated (Lord Digga and Paula Perry) and dropped Slaughtahouse. The album broke new ground by taking the synthesized West Coast Sound and filtering it through an East Coast mentality. The memorable "Born to Roll," with its tweaked Moog/Kraftwerk bass line, brought Ace some serious commercial attention. In 2000, De La Soul used this classic beat on a remix of "All Good" featuring Chaka Khan. The album also produced a few hits for undergrounders including "Jeep Ass Niguhz" and "Style Wars." The album is highly notable for its cross-coast compatibility. In 1995 Masta Ace Incorporated dropped Sittin' on Chrome, a continuation of the themes on Slaughtahouse and owning an even slicker sound. Using the Isley Brothers' much-sampled "For the Love of You" for the track "I.N.C. Ride" may have offended some of Ace's loyal fans but the song's catchy vibe made it a hit. Sittin' on Chrome is another album chock-full of Jeep beats that doesn't relinquish its standing with underground tastes. "B Side" and "4 the Mind" featuring the Cella Dwellas are also crucial jams. Ace has been known to release sleeper singles that cannot be found on his albums; one of the rarest, 1996's "Ya Hardcore," is a bumping indictment of studio gangsters and thug rap neophytes. The talented survivor in the rap game released a variety of singles in 2000 including "Hellbound," a duet with Eminem marking his 12-plus years of experience in the rap biz. The Disposable Arts album from 2001 was a well-received protest against watered-down rap with some hints that the rapper was retiring. It was all a red herring as he returned in 2004 with the conceptual album A Long Hot Summer. A year later he formed the eMC with rappers Wordsworth, Punchline, and Stricklin.