Masta Ace Incorporated

Sittin' on Chrome

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In the five years that passed between his debut, Take a Look Around, and his third full-length, Sittin' on Chrome, Brooklyn rapper Masta Ace's sound changed a lot. Angrier lyrics were already starting to show up on his sophomore release, SlaughtaHouse, but it was nothing in comparison to Sittin' on Chrome. Not that the themes are fueled by testosterone and rage here (and not that they were on SlaughtaHouse, either, though there was a great deal more vitriol), but the overall feel of the album -- which has by now moved past the boom bap old-school beats into fuller, gloomier production that more aptly represents the mid-'90s East Coast sound -- is much darker, with slower, heavier songs that ponder life in the ghetto. But the record's not an attack on the system that has caused the poor conditions of inner-city existence; rather, it's more of a collection of sketches that show it in its entirety, both the good and the bad. The whole Masta Ace Incorporated crew (Lord Digga, Leschea, and Paula Perry) is present here and does a good job -- along with Ace, of course, whose flow and lyrics combine to show him off at his best -- at adding depth and realism to the album's 16 cuts, interludes and all. It's a formula that clearly works well: Sittin' on Chrome boasted the MC's most popular songs, "Born to Roll" (which was also included as a bonus track on SlaughtaHouse), "The I.N.C. Ride," and the title track itself, but the other material -- "Eastbound," "People in My Hood" -- is equally as interesting, and makes the record a very worthwhile addition to a rap collection.

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