Masta Ace

Take a Look Around

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The debut full-length from Masta Ace, and only one with the Juice Crew (with whom he rapped on "The Symphony"), Take a Look Around is as much a testament to Marley Marl and DJ Mister Cee's production as it as to the very able rhyming skills of the collegiate-looking Ace. Though the album never gave the MC the success that other Juice Crew members -- including Big Daddy Kane, to whom he is often compared -- had, it's still a great representation of what early hip-hop was and could be, both light-hearted ("Can't Stop the Bumrush," "Me and the Biz," which, contrary to popular belief, does not feature Mr. Markie, but instead an impersonation by Masta Ace) and socially aware ("The Other Side of Town," "I Got Ta"), confident without being ridiculous (seen, for example, in "Letter to the Better," which was also the B-side to his first single, "Together," also included here). It's not groundbreaking stuff, but it's consistent and a lot of fun, high-quality rap that shows off the Brooklyn MC's easygoing flow and storytelling skills, a solid hour of music without any filler, and a definite must-have for any fans of golden age hip-hop.

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