Aceyalone's 2003 album, Love and Hate, inspired a lot of hand-wringing, as critics bemoaned the glaringly obvious gap between the MC's slick, flowery raps and his bullshit-ass beats. It looked like he'd hit a career zenith with 1995's All Balls Don't Bounce (reissued in 2004) and wasn't destined to produce anything else worth writing about. But this year, Aceyalone makes a comeback: On his new, phenomenal joint, Magnificent City, the MC isolates what was good about Love and Hate (producer RJD2), casts off the bad (fellow beat-cobblers Sayyid and Priest), and tones down what was also bad (his penchant for moralizing and philosophizing without actually saying anything). RJD2's beats a seamless garage-funk blend of horn loops, vocal vamps, and electric organs enhance and sometimes outpace the MC's verbal stylings, but on most tracks, Aceyalone proves himself worthy. The persona he cultivates on this album sarcastic, dislocated, tired of the world is what he should've been going for on Love and Hate. Maybe he needed three years to grow into it.
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