To use a cliché, Masta Ace is like a fine wine. As with the best that the bottle has to offer, he has become better with age. Most emcees of his era have steadily declined, usually coasting on their name and past merits, and lacking the ability to create anything relevant, choose good production, and deliver the lyrical masterpieces of their youth. Ace, on the other hand, has created two masterpieces (Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer), paired up with another veteran that gets better with time (Edo G) to form A&E, rock on MF Doom’s beats on MA Doom, and create a new crew with eMC. It’s the later unit that is back after a handful of years. A relaunched label (Penalty) and reformed unit (Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth, & Stricklin), bring forth an EP with an LP to follow in a few months.
On The Turning Point EP, the crew picks up where 2008’s The Show left off. What you are treated to has all the regular trademarks of an Ace project: the M3 sound bite to set off the album, and skits that tie the tracks together and fuel the narrative. In the case of the narrative, you have Ace being contacted on Super Bowl Sunday by Penalty Records. This leads to having to link everyone else back together, in a scene that isn’t what it used to be, and with the kids, families, and other life responsibilities sharing a chunk of everyone’s time. Everyone is a little older, a little more weathered by what the years have brought, and this is perfectly expressed on the title track where they all look back to where they’ve been, and look ahead to where they are going.
In terms of production, Ace is one of the few that can rock over a more mainstream-sounding production and make it his own, and not the other way around. From some of the tracks on Sittin’ on Chrome to some on the new project, he has been able to walk the fine line without ever abandoning who he is for a radio hit. The Turning Point includes several examples of this, from sung hooks and choruses on the majority of the tracks, to the reggae chorus on “The Coolest”, and some of the beat choices. Despite some of these elements, the lyrics, song concepts, and emcee’s styles all shine through, which might be one of the biggest strengths of this release. All four members of the group have distinct voices, delivery styles, and personalities that they bring to the mic. They all balance each other, creating perfect balance.
At the end of the day, if you enjoyed The Show, you’ll probably think highly of The Turning Point EP and eMC’s upcoming sophomore release. If you didn’t like the project, there’s not necessarily anything that will change your mind on this project. But like they say on the title track, “eMC is a movement, but we’re here to stay.”
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