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Ace Beanz CD Review

By Staff | Feb 29, 2008

And people wonder why I prefer underground hip-hop. Dub V’s Ace Beanz’s debut is realer than 50 Cent’s last release. That’s right, I said it. A Mountain State MC is more street than the man who was shot nine times.

I guess it all depends on how you define street — and there’s plenty of disagreement here. For me, street is defined by authenticity and from what I can tell Ace has it in spades.

The subject matter does linger on the cliche too often for my taste: girls (er, should I say hoes?), money, blunts and bragging. But often enough to separate himself from the aforementioned MC — and many others— Ace tackles subjects that unravel a hard rap persona and reveal a young man trying to find his place in this world.

This is all wrapped up with a poignant flair on the title track, “My SouthPark Story,” which, over a melodic piano and faint distorted guitars, touches on growing up around drug dealers in Morgantown, being a carefree 16-year-old concerned only with money, clothes and girls, and hiding under covers with his brother as his parents fight all night.

Other tracks, like “4 Josh,” detail the pain of losing a friend, while others, like “OuThere,” tackle class struggles (which is much different from the love of money).

The most interesting track, both thematically and sonically, is “Among Thieves,” which features a sample of “Hotel California” and doubles as a metaphor for growing up on the streets.

These personal touches make this an interesting listen, rising the release above most of today’s generic mainstream hip-hop artists, whose narrow individualistic approach is sadly the norm now.

The production, by at least eight different producers, is certainly no Dre or Timbaland, but it’s soulful and gritty, filled with horns, violins, piano, fuzzy guitar, clean, banging snare drums and even a xylophone on “Miss Ya.” A few tracks have more of a Dirty South feel, while others feel decidely East Coast.

Cameos are plenty, too, featuring Morgantown residents Tynisha, 6’6” 240 and Jathara, among others.

Oh, and be sure to check out Ace’s CD release party Feb. 28 at 123 Pleasant St and pick up this disc.