Few cats in the rap game can legitimately claim they’ve had a noteworthy impact in four consecutive decades. Masta Ace is among them. He’s had a long and illustrious career, and while short on formal awards, his work is felt among heavyweights like Eminem, who cites Ace’s storytelling ability as a large influence in the development of his own style in his formative years.
For his first solo LP since 2004’s A Long Hot Summer Masta Ace joins forces with cult hero MF Doom, a fellow legend in his own right whose career also began in the Golden Age as a member of the group KMD. These two grizzled, highly-respected veterans form MA Doom, dropping the superb Son of Yvonne.
Masta Ace essentially cherry-picked the hottest joints from the ten volumes of Doom’s classic Special Herbs series for the soundscape of this project. While others have spit on some of these beats, Ace is the only one sanctioned by Doom. Second, like Ace’s previous works, Son of Yvonne is a concept album with a clearly defined theme adhered to from start to finish. The album is dedicated to Ace’s late mother and it chronicles his formative years growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
Masta Ace’s penchant for weaving vivid narratives is the driving force of this album. It’s like a Hip-Hop version of “The Wonder Years” if Kevin was a b-boy and budding emcee forming his identity in the time of the culture’s genesis. There are joints chronicling his family life, his discovery of Hip-Hop, block episodes, fun with his crew and sordid tales of the night life, all conveyed with Ace’s memorable delivery. Doom’s dusty loops and raw beats complement Ace’s commentaries. There’s not one single wack track on Son of Yvonne.
One of the most entertaining songs is “Me and My Gang,” a tale all about Ace’s recollections of his core group of homies growing up. Ace, with his characteristic sharp wit and sense of humor, bodies a shuffling Doom composition propelled by a gregarious rag-time jazz piano sample amidst synchronistic scratches and boom-bap. Peep the second verse.
That’s Big Ox , listen this the deal/you can’t tell from his appearance he ain’t missed a meal/see he once had a tryout as a New York Jet/but he spent his little check and bought a new Corvet/and then there’s Brad, he’s a college grad/book smarts are great, street knowledge bad/he had a 4.0 in a 4 year span but he stay getting’ scammed by the bootleg man/and that’s Bud, perfect name indeed/cuz he really loves beer, it’s the same with weed/and he likes that nutrition that packs a punch/for breakfast two blunts, a six pack for lunch/opposite of him is Malik Jamal/who don’t smoke, drink, or eat meat at all/he be preachin’ every night about eatin’ right/while he sip a cup of coffee, smoke a Newport Light
“In Da Spot,” featuring Milani the Artis, is another joint that goes H.A.M. Ace and Doom both excel at finding top notch female talent to showcase, and Milani’s sixteen bars give all those confused fellas out there some clarity on what the hell is REALLY going through the minds of all those birds they strike out with at the club.
The title track of the LP, is a beautiful homage to Masta Ace’s Ma Dukes. Ace gives thanks for the lessons imparted to him by his late mother over a Doom masterpiece that will have the listener pressing rewind repeatedly for the bliss it induces. A contemplative, hypnotic John Coltrane sample and thoughtful, heart-wrenching piano riff dripping with ennui provide the backdrop for the son of Yvonne to say goodbye. At the end of the album is “Outtakes.” it’s here that you can really get a sense of how much fun was had in the making of this awesome addition to both Doom and Masta Ace’s catalogs.
Sure, a lot of emcees have already rocked over these beats, many admirably. But Son of Yvonne is the real deal. Did any of those other dudes get verses from MF Doom himself and Big Daddy Kane? Hell.No. Masta Ace did, which lends Son of Yvonne a legitimacy that all the others lack. Special Herbs has tons of material for aspiring emcees to rip, but only a professional could put together something like this. This album had a lot of consideration and thought behind it in its creation and this sincere dedication is some of Masta Ace’s best work in a discography full of heat rocks.
4.25 out of 5