Masta Ace & Marco Polo – “A Breukelen Story” (Album Review)
Masta Ace is a 51 year old MC who started out as a member of the Juice Crew. He released his criminally underrated debut Take a Look Around in the summer of 1990 & then after the Juice Crew’s disbandment the following year, he went on to sign to Delicious Vinyl & release 2 albums under the name Masta Ace Incorporated He then disappeared from the music industry, returning in 2001 with one of the greatest concept albums in all of hip hop Disposable Arts. The closer on that album “No Regrets” sparked rumors that it would be Ace’s final album until he returned with A Long Hot Summer in 2004, which was a near perfect prequel to Disposable Arts. He then started focusing on his eMC crew up until 2012, when he released MA_Doom: Son of Yvonne. An album where Ace took a bunch of instrumentals from MF DOOM’s Special Herbs series of instrumental albums & made a tribute to his departed mother out of it. His last album The Falling Season in 2016 told a story of Masta Ace’s high school years, but was weighed down by an overabundance of skits. He has since been teasing his 8th full-length album over here with Marco Polo producing it in it’s entirety, a concept album about his hometown of Brooklyn.
The album kicks off with “Kings”, where Ace talks about unity & how the older generation’s parents were telling them the same thing they’ve been saying to the new generation these days over a punchy piano instrumental. After the “Dad’s Talk” skit, we go into the next song “Breukelen “Brooklyn””. Here, Ace links up with Smif-n-Wessun of the Boot Camp Clik to pay tribute to their hometown & all of the greats to come from there over a boom bap beat with some somber piano chords. The track “Get Shot” of course gets confrontational over a boom bap beat with a funky bass-line, keyboards, & some harmonious female background vocals while the song “Still Love Her” is a vivid yet mellow dedication to this woman from Ace’s teenage years.
The track “Man Law” with Styles P sees the 2 talking about counting your blessings over an orchestral boom bap beat while the song “You & I” is a dedication to Ace’s wife with some smooth guitar passages. After the “Gotta Go” skit, we go into the song “Sunken Place”. Here, Ace talks about being raised in the ghetto over some drums & a faint vocal sample. The track “Corporal Punishment” with eLZhi takes a jab at the industry over an eerie beat & after the “Landlord of the Flies” skit, we go into the song “Count ‘Em Up”. Here, Ace link’s up with Lil’ Fame tell the story of a raid that occurred in their neighborhood & the one sample on here where a bunch of kids are saying “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” is just flawless.
The track “American Me” talks about the current state of the United States over a soulful boom bap beat & after “The Cutting Room” skit, the song “God Bodies” is a continuation of the conscious themes of the previous joint over a druggy beat. The track “Wanna Be” with Marlon Craft talks about copycats over a chilled out boom bap beat while the song “3” is a perfect eMC reunion over a flute-heavy instrumental. Then before things finish off with the “Mom’s Talk” skit, the final song “The Fight Song” with Pharoahe Monch describes life with multiple sclerosis over a grimy instrumental with some angelic choir vocals.
I’ve been waiting on this for a little over a year now & the end result is one of the best albums Masta Ace has ever made. He‘s always been one of the most underrated lyricists in the history of the culture & even this deep in his career, he continues to prove that as Marco Polo’s production suits his storytelling near perfectly.