Aceyalone - The Lonely Ones (2009)

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Ah, remember the 90's? Well, if you don't, music wasn't as fluid or freely-mixed as it is now, and the boundaries between genres and regional flavors were nearly tangible, exacting heavy consequences if blended or crossed. Hip-hop was even more polarized, branding anyone who wasn't a gangsta griot (West Coast) or a politically-minded poet (East Coast) as untrue to the game or, even worse, not even playing. Enter Eddie "Aceyalone" Hayes.

Once part of the Los-Angeles-based alterna-rap group Freestyle Fellowship, Aceyalone dropped his critcially-acclaimed debut, All Balls Don't Bounce, in 1995, and has maintained a devoted following over the years with each successive release, thanks to his ability to combine raw rhyming skills with a gritty gumbo of musical styles and influences. His ninth release, The Lonely Ones, continues that tradition and combines his modern flow with reinterpretations of 60's and 70's funk, pop, R&B, doo-wop and more.

Ah, remember the 90's? Well, if you don't, music wasn't as fluid or freely-mixed as it is now, and the boundaries between genres and regional flavors were nearly tangible, exacting heavy consequences if blended or crossed. Hip-hop was even more polarized, branding anyone who wasn't a gangsta griot (West Coast) or a politically-minded poet (East Coast) as untrue to the game or, even worse, not even playing. Enter Eddie "Aceyalone" Hayes.

Once part of the Los-Angeles-based alterna-rap group Freestyle Fellowship, Aceyalone dropped his critcially-acclaimed debut, All Balls Don't Bounce, in 1995, and has maintained a devoted following over the years with each successive release, thanks to his ability to combine raw rhyming skills with a gritty gumbo of musical styles and influences. His ninth release, The Lonely Ones, continues that tradition and combines his modern flow with reinterpretations of 60's and 70's funk, pop, R&B, doo-wop and more.

This isn't a typically tired collection of trite verses and boring, borrowed beats; unlike many of his peers, Aceyalone doesn't 1) employ silly skits, 2) wear the listener out with an overly-long succession of tracks and 3) force fans to endure a roster of today's hottest rappers masquerading as 'guests' meant only to affirm his credibilty. In lesser hands, ...Lonely's organic showman/bandleader approach would be self-conscious and messy, but Lonely Ones, even with its differing textures, is a brassy, non-stop party that blends one track into another seamlessly and without recycling samples and subject matter. "What It Wuz" compares and contrasts the golden past with a grayed-out, uncertain furture, made that much more poignant with its crooning refrain, while his crisp flow spells out the monotony of the money grind in "Working Man's Blues," sounding deceptively exuberant with its cheery falsetto chorus and smattering of tambourines. "Can't Hold Back" employs both a call-and-response banter and a hard-hitting rhyme flow layered over frenetic funk, and "On The 1" mixes horns and a tongue-twisting delivery that's as irresistable as it is erratic. Even his mack moment contains equal parts glitter and grit: "Step Up" is a fun, cute-not-cloying Motown-esque romp that finds him smoothing over his 'playa playa' ways to snag a honey intent on being a Mrs. rather than a mattress tester. It's a priceless exchange and Treasure Davis's coy approach would Diana Ross proud.

Aceyalone goes in so many directions at once that The Lonely Ones may be considered an acquired taste to the uninitiated, but to his fans, ...Lonely will be yet another testament to his lyrical prowess, originality and what makes him so essential to the music scene, no matter what set the listener claims.  

By Melody Charles

 
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