For years, underground rap producers have been enjoined to stop creating myopic beat symphonies (often instrumental) and start working with real live rappers. For that reason, it's a rare thrill to see one of the underground's finest producers (Rjd2) providing beats for Freestyle Fellowship veteran Aceyalone on Acey's sixth album, Magnificent City (although the hubris of that co-billing -- "Accompanied by Rjd2" is listed on the cover -- can be a mite grating). The producer's two tracks on Aceyalone's 2003 record Love & Hate were solid, and his work here is even more impressive. At a time when the average producer rarely gets more than one or two tracks onto the same album, Magnificent City features only a pair of creative talents -- rapper and beatmaker. Better yet, this is a set that never sounds like it's come from the same mixing board (or the same head). A bumping, horn-led jam called "All for U" opens the album, the very next track, "Fire," is a luscious piece of smooth soul, and more than a few productions provide the type of slick, West Coast grind that allows Aceyalone to play the Lothario but still sound like he's satirizing the lover-man archetype (best of all is "Supahero"). Ten years after West Coast rap began to slow down, Rjd2 shows he can interpret it for the 21st century, with huge hooks that draw listeners in, but clever productions that allow for all of Aceyalone's talents to shine through.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush