Thurs Nov 29
Berbati's Pan

A devoted metalhead, my boyfriend generally thinks that hiphop "all sounds the same," or complains that the lyrics don't really match the beats. He often says, "It sounds like they're just yelling over some random beats." For this reason, he prefers early, early hiphop: Sugarhill, Run DMC, even a little Public Enemy now and then.

I agree with him on the latter complaint, however, especially when listening to live hiphop. It takes a talented MC to keep perfect rhythm and balance with the music. Hiphop is usually so mastered that there have been many times when I've left a hiphop show disappointed with a horribly off-kilter MC, even if I previously liked his recorded stuff.

But that's why I'm banking on Aceyalone being one of the best MCs I've ever seen. His rhyming is far more sophisticated than the rhyming of Grandmaster Flash--not that I'm dissing GF, but it reminds me of those early days of hiphop because the rhymes are so measured and disciplined. Aceyalone is also a talented enough MC that he's preserved that incredible balance, while also drawing on the progress of the last ten years in hiphop. Beats are scattered and challenging, and he even uses jazz melodies.

Likewise, Aceyalone has a voice that's unique and contemporary. It's almost inevitable that anyone who writes about him describes his voice as rubberband-like, but that's because it's the best possible metaphor. Somehow, it's like Aceyalone wraps his voice all over the music, taking control of the beats and muscling them into place, rather than letting any of the sounds out of his control. He's been solo for his last three albums, and I think it's the only way for him to be. His voice is the music.

Since Aceyalone is so talented, his music sounds deceptively simple. He somehow manages to remain perfectly articulate and completely accessible, while also showcasing his razor-sharp rhymes. Therefore, hiphop fans love him, people who recognize his talent, and people who just like "stuff that has a beat and some rhythm." Maybe I'll drag my boyfriend.