LA underground legend, Aceyalone, has constantly reinvented himself with each release. His classic debut, All Balls Don’t Bounce found him rhyming over jazz breaks in the early 90′s, while it’s follow-up, A Book Of Human Language took him to the depths of the concept album underground. Later we saw him collaborate with RJD2 for Magnificent City, an album from which Mad Men would pull it’s opening theme, followed by a dancehall LP (Lightning Strikes) and his last album, Aceyalone & The Lonely Ones, which would pay homage to the Motown sound of the 60′s.
For his latest LP, Leanin’ On Slick, Aceyalone makes the most natural progression yet, again teaming with producer Bionik, to explore the funk and soul sound of the 70′s. With popularity of parties like The Do Over in LA and The Get Back in Las Vegas, Acey’s homage to music found mostly on 45′s could be his most relevant album in years, even if only in select demographics.
The tone of the album is set perfectly on it’s opening track, “30 & Up”, which targets it’s audience through both it’s lyrical message, as well as through an interpolation of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues”. While the song eventually extends the olive branch to the 20-somethings, 40-somethings, and 50-somethings, it’s clear that this generation, rules his nation.
Once the title track, “Leanin’ On Slick”, comes in on track two, it’s evident that this is far beyond a one-song gimmick, and that these cats really did their homework, in aims of producing a classic sounding, funky soul record. Songs like “Show Me Them Shoes” and “Cold Piece” could have very easily been found on some dusty 7″ somewhere, in an alternate universe where rap was discovered just a few years earlier.
While great in theory, the execution is not quite all it’s cracked up to be. Leanin’ On Slick is a very well done record, and should be commended as such, however truthfully there aren’t many songs here that will find you going back for more, like the records it was inspired by. “Workin’ Man’s Blues” begins to wear down the Cee-Lo Green throwback schtick a bit, while the Daniel Merriweather featured “Things Get Better” seems more fitting for Acey’s last album. And the album’s closing track, a cover of “Hit The Road (Jack)” seems a bit tacked on. While these might be the record’s most “commercial” (in the loosest sense of the word) selections, they don’t really fit with the rest of the LP.
It’s unclear if Acey is backed by a live band, or if this is simply Bionik’s studio wizardry, but in all in, Leanin’ On Slick is an incredibly put together LP, and the perfect homage to a time period that inspired hip-hop’s greatest era. While it’s not completely bulletproof in execution, it can easily be named the most honest, integral rap album of the year.
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