Aceyalone

Accepted Eclectic

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By the time Aceyalone recorded his third solo album, he was recognized as a founding father of the L.A. underground. In an era dominated by gangsta rap, he'd posited an alternative based on intellectual lyrics and virtuosic microphone technique, and his work -- both solo and with Freestyle Fellowship -- helped inspire future crews to return to hip-hop's basic elements. Acey stuck around via a series of independent side projects and underground supergroup collaborations, and finally returned to his solo career with 2001's excellent Accepted Eclectic. For all his lyrical talent, Aceyalone has sometimes been plagued by erratic production, and Accepted Eclectic -- despite a few cheap-sounding drum machines in spots -- takes steps to remedy that situation with a stronger, funkier set of beats. It also backs off the overambitious concept of A Book of Human Language, instead simply letting Aceyalone's winning personality shine through. He's his usual reflective self on the excellent "I Never Knew," about how you have to experience the bad to appreciate the good, and "I Can't Complain," where he's grateful just to have his basic needs met. But there are plenty of exciting moments as well. "Rappers Rappers Rappers" and "Golden Mic" are showcases for his tremendous wordplay and rapid-fire rhyming skills, respectively, and the shifting classical samples of the title track make it one of the best productions in his catalog. "Master Your High" samples Slick Rick's "Hey Young World" as the basis for a witty riff on overindulgent kids who haven't learned to hold their liquor or drugs. Those are just the top highlights on a strikingly consistent album that's packed with imaginative, smooth-flowing rhymes, and a simple joy in creating them.

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