The Lonely Ones

Title: The Lonely Ones

Artist: Aceyalone

Label: Decon

Catalog No: DCN69

Release Date: March 31, 2009

Aceyalone is one of the godfathers of West Coast underground hip hop. As a member of Freestyle Fellowship and the larger Project Blowed collective, he helped establish a musical movement that countered the force of the popular California gangsta rap scene in the early 1990s. His first two solo releases, 1995’s All Balls Don’t Bounce and 1998’s A Book of Human Language, are considered classics and influenced a whole generation of underground lyricists. Aside from his solo work, Aceyalone has been a member of two notable groups, The A-Team (with Abstract Rude) and Haiku D’Etat (with Abstract Rude and Micah 9). The Lonely Ones is a Decon Records release and finds Acey somehow treading even newer waters.

This concept album finds Ace One rapping over 1950s-60s R & B/doo wop breakbeats. To further set the atmosphere, Acey includes skits set in an intimate night club, where he introduces songs in front of a live audience. All production is handled by frequent collaborator Bionik and manages to achieve stylistic diversity while maintaining the theme. There are many standout tracks on the CD including “Lonely Ones,” “Can’t Hold Back,” the masterful “The Way it Was,” and the fiery “Power to the People.” As usual, Aceyalone shines as he incorporates these older styles without ever sounding unconfident or corny. The album is appropriately ten tracks deep and thirty minutes long, ending before the theme wears thin.

Following is the official music video for “The Way It Was” featuring Bionik, courtesy of Decon Records, directed by Jason Goldwatch:

With The Lonely Ones, Aceyalone secures his status as the king of concepts. Only a select few could pull off an album like this and Aceyalone manages to sound completely fresh while pulling from elder styles. Becomes he has spent his entire career in the underground, Acey’s contribution to hip hop music and culture has been grossly overlooked. It is unfortunate that artists who consistently push the limits of hip hop have failed to get their deserved respect. Thankfully, Aceyalone and the like continue to produce creative music for those audiences willing to listen. The Lonley Ones by Aceyalone is a must have for Ace One fans and hip hop fans looking for a different sound.

Posted by Langston Collin Wilkins

The Third World

Title: The Third World
Artist: Immortal Technique
Label: Viper Records
Catalog No.: VR-CD-08
Release date: June 24, 2008

Harlem bred MC Immortal Technique is one of the most revolutionary voices in hip hop. While initially hitting the scene with Revolutionary Vol. 1 (2001), it was 2003’s Revolutionary Vol. 2 that put him on the underground map. His vicious and militant rhymes about the life of the oppressed captured an audience seeking an edgier form of socially conscious rap. After the release of Revolutionary Vol. 2, Technique virtually dropped off the scene, minus a couple of singles. The Third World is Immortal Technique’s official return to the hip hop world and precursor to his upcoming full length, Revolutionary Vol. 3.

The Third World is a mixtape album, mixed by former Shady Records member DJ Green Lantern. Aside from Green Lantern, production duties are handled by high profile underground producers like Buckwild, Scram Jones, and Bronze Nazareth, as well as up and comers including Southpaw Young Elite, Sick Jacken, and Metaphysics. This diverse group of beatsmiths provides Immortal Technique with a variety of sounds that he not only adapts to but commands.

There are many standout tracks on the album. “Lick Shots” is a banging battle track featuring West Coast lyricist Crooked I and Chino XL. On “Harlem Rensaissance,” Tech uses a simple, but effective backing track to talk about gentrification in his native Harlem. “Parole” finds Immortal Technique breaking down the prison industrial complex over an extremely hard Green Lantern beat. Wu affiliate Bronze Nazareth offers one of his typical heaters on “Payback” which Immortal Technique, Diabolic, and a rejuvenated Ras Kass completely rip apart. “Reverse Pimpology,” produced by Metaphysics, is a commercial track that is surprisingly effective and enjoyable. Following is a promotional video for the album:

The 3rd World Announcement

Immortal Technique has produced an extremely thought provoking, but also very entertaining album. He seems to have responded to those who labeled his earlier work as too dense and inaccessible. His employment of new styles and sounds is pleasantly surprising and makes him more of complete artist. The production work of Green Lantern, Southpaw, Buckwild and others is consistently dope and compliments Immortal Technique perfectly. This is a great release and makes Immortal Technique one to look out for in the future.

Posted by Langston Collin Wilkins