Aceyalone Magnificent City

Aceyalone and his Freestyle Fellowship might have profoundly influenced underground West coast hip-hop a decade ago, but it’s looking more and more like Ace’s pen is drying up. Ten years ago he was hungrier than Star Jones on a crash diet; an MC with seemingly boundless creativity and skill that he applied to 1995’s overlooked All Balls Don’t Bounce and 1998’s ambitious-if-overreaching Book of Human Language. Then, Ace ditched profundity for accessibility with 2001’s typical-but-satisfying Accepted Eclectic before going to bland camp with 2003’s Love & Hate. Now, he’s teamed up with Ohio super-producer RJD2, a man more than capable of giving Ace the soundscapes and inspiration for a return-to-form. But don’t call this a comeback. Aceyalone is still a talented MC; a veteran with great flow, cadence and breath control, but lyrically he sounds exhausted. It’s in his limp punch lines, his choice of well-covered lyrical terrain (another song about weed?), and his voice, which lacks his usual passion and energy. RJD2 does a passable job, delivering a couple of very good tracks (such as swaggering album highlight "Soloman Jones”), but even he can’t elevate the proceedings enough to salvage an ultimately disappointing project. As Ace puts it on "All for You”: "I am what I am but that ain’t all I can be”; neither is Magnificent City all that it could be. (Project Blowed)