24 July, 2013@9:58 pm
Florida native Ace Hood got some unwanted publicity recently when his supposedly Rolodex watch fell to pieces during an interview at the BET Awards. Whoops. It was an embarrassing moment for a guy who rubs shoulders with bigwigs like Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne, 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa, and is signed with DJ Khaled and Cash Money.
Maybe next time he just shouldn’t wear the watch, because Ace Hood is at his best when he’s not concerned with the flash.
On his fourth studio album, Trial & Tribulations, he comes out with some deeply personal material, reflecting on the loss of his baby daughter:
“I’m a walkin’ testimony and I mean just what I say/Looked my daughter in the eyes right before she passed away/Watched them doctors pull the plug don’t wanna live another day,” he confesses on the album’s title track.
He follows that up with this timely reference on “Another Statistic”: “God bless Trayvon Martin I’m in my hoodie/Another innocent young brother who met a bully.” The name has been mentioned in plenty of other songs, but perhaps not with as much context as this track about the dangers of being young and black.
Ace has the heart and flow that should be the calling card that separates him from the aforementioned heavyweights.
The ups and downs on Trials & Tribulations, though, can be tied almost directly to his tendency to fall into the materialistic, empty boasts that mark much of today’s popular mainstream rap. Most obviously on the lead single “Bugatti” featuring Rick Ross and its remix featuring Wiz, T.I., Meek Mill, Future, 2 Chainz and French Montana among others. Almost a laundry list of today’s showy, substanceless rappers. Actually, they’re very good at what they do, what they do just happens to be shallow and banal.
When Rick Ross groans, “I woke up in a new Bugatti,” this reviewer can’t help but think, why is such a man of means sleeping in his car?
“We Outchea” sounds like production we’ve heard on more than a few songs with heavy synths, ratchety sped up drums and a very unhelpful appearance from Wayne, dropping awful juvenile lyrics like, “I f**k the b***h with a broom stick/the same broom that I didn’t clean my room with.”
When Ace sticks with his own identity, however, he really shines. He sounds especially invigorated on the overtly religious “My Bible,” over a Just Blaze-esque beat from StreetRunner, spitting a series of creative spiritual quips: “Keep my bible on my side just know I’m armed and ready/If we got a problem, scripture like 100 choppers … 20 Jesus pieces on me like I can’t be touched/Every soul needs saved but it can’t be rushed.”
He also add another worthy entry into the cannon of hip-hop songs about moms with “Mama,” featuring a soulful appearance by Betty Wright.
Trials & Tribulations is a very God-heavy album, with countless references to prayer and Christ. He’s not, of course, wholly reverent in his Biblical references like on “Have Mercy” when he paraphrases, “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, see no p**sy.”
The track is also one of several on Trials that prove Ace can spit fire. Talking about exclusive sports cars over generic beats may be good for sales, it’s just not the best of use of his considerable talent.
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