Crews in Hip Hop are synonymous with the culture. The Juice Crew blasted on the scene in the late 80’s. One of the lesser known members was Master Ace – who released his debut “Take A Look Around” 26 years ago today.
Big Daddy Kane was the most recognizable member for obvious reasons. Kool G Rap was heralded for his vivid street stories while Biz Markie’s antics are known world wide. Master Ace (now Masta Ace) has been quietly releasing conceptual albums since the late 80’s while his brethren make a living off their reputation. I remember stealing money from my granny’s (RIP) purse to buy this tape from Caldor and while I bought the cassette by shady means, the music didn’t disappoint. Let’s revisit this classic and see if there are some forgotten gems.
“Other Side of Town” was a song that the legendary Marley Marl cooked up. Instead of telling a violent tale about growing up, Ace creates 3 verses about the frustrations of being poor. Like so many tales in hip hop, he has the thought of illegal activities when he spits.
“I think I’ll stick up the store with the Arab guy
I’m sick of him anyway; his prices are too high
Or maybe I’ll start sellin Avon door-to-door
Then pull a jammy, and make a bigger score
Nah, maybe I’ll start sellin dope for my cous
Then I could drive the same car he does”
Ultimately it doesn’t go that way. Ace does a great job of painting a picture of being poor in NY. What makes this refreshing is he doesn’t automatically resort to violence like so many of his hip hop brethren.
“Brooklyn Battles” was one of the joints that gave me chills. The classic Eddie Kendrick’s “If You Let Me” was sampled on this one. The bassline and the whistles throughout the song perfectly matched Ace’s articulate Brooklyn tale. This sounds wonderful 26 years later.
Master Ace “Brooklyn Battles”
“Postin High”, “Maybe Next Time” and “Together” all feature old school soul samples. “Me and The Biz” was the only single released and one of the most innovative tracks ever. For some reason, Ace didn’t get Biz Markie on a song titled “Me and the Biz”. No worries, Ace impersonated Biz throughout the song and the result was pure magic. The Cymande sample was pure hypnotic and the video has got to be one of my favorites. Once again, Biz wasn’t in the video, but Ace got a life size puppet to stand in. I’m not much of a dancer, but the moves Ace and his crew in the video did seemed simple enough to impress Neicy in high school. The video was hilarious as it highlighted Ace traveling around town with his Biz puppet. I laughed when Sexy Cindy was trying to rub all over Ace and he wasn’t having it….he wanted to ensure his Biz puppet was straight. Sexy Cindy from this video and Claire Huxtable were the first 2 women I ever fell in love with.
Master Ace & Biz Markie “Me And The Biz”
The piece de resistance of this tape is without a doubt “As I Reminisce”. Master Ace called on his two homies, Master Ice (come on dude, did your name have to be that close to Master Ace) and Unique, to join the party and rhyme about the good ole days. They each had a couple verses and vividly painted a portrait of their days of young. Nostalgia was exhibited while listening to this song…..Riding bikes, Chinese handball, church shoes, name buckles with Lee jeans, and fat laces were all part of growing up.
I feel especially old when Unique rhymes, “The 90’s are here times are going fast…and it’s a perfect time to reminisce about the past”
Master Ace wrapped up the some introspective lyrics
Back then, a fist was your best weapon
So you threw up your hands instead of just stepping.
And if you lost, you lived to fight another day.
I heard a brother say; now there’s no other way
To win a fight, except to use a bullet
The trigger makes me feel bigger when I pull it
I just shook my head at this…
And that’s what made me want to reminisce.
Not only did Ace describe his earlier times, but also indirectly reminded brothers to stop the gun violence. The music is the real winner here. The horn sample throughout the song is so smooth, a tear drifted down my left eye the first time I ever heard this. You have no soul if this Monk Higgins sample didn’t elicit any emotion from you. This horn sample is one of the best….even trumps T.R.O.Y. Yeah I said it.
Master Ace “As I Reminisce”
“Take A Look Around” was a solid debut from a talented MC. Masta Ace has certainly grown as an MC and his is still releasing music today. “The Falling Season” was just released a couple months ago and highlights his school days. There were some skippable moments, but Ace’s debut ride was enjoyable nonetheless. There are plenty of gems on here to keep us entertained. Thanks for the treats Ace.