Back to pencils, back to books, back to teachers’ dirty looks – the end of a long, hot summer truly is one of the worst times for children. Unfortunately, the end of “A Long Hot Summer” is just as bad for hip-hop fans.
If “Long Hot Summer” really does turn out to be former Juice Crew member Masta Ace’s final hip-hop record, he aces his final exam with flying colors in a magical display of hip-hop greatness that so few hip-hop greats attain. His conceptual, yet so-New York braggadocio style is one that only a select group of emcees have managed to master just like the Masta.
From the amazingly soulful 9th Wonder produced “Good Ol’ Love,” where Ace laments, “The world gonna show me some love, listen, And I’m not talkin’ about the fake hugs and kissin’, 15 years in the game, a lot of love is missin’,” to the self-analyzing “Revelations,” Ace is his own ace in the hole. Even as he refers to himself as “underground like a gopher,” the true losers in that relationship are hip-hop fans – those past and present who have forgotten to show Masta his love and respect in the hip-hop game.
Unlike other “farewell” albums, Masta Ace pays almost no mind to his final call, instead reveling in the styled raps and interesting concepts that have formed his foundation since the late-‘80s. The conceptual-as-hell “Soda & Soap” sees Ace patterning all his rhymes around the names of different, you guessed it, sodas and soaps. Ace somehow manages to almost throw out more names than listeners will be able to catch in the squeaky clean anthem featuring the welcomed Jean Grae.
“This is brand new Uptowns still in the box, This the Yankees, 10-0, killin’ the Sox,” Ace raps on the appropriately-titled “Beautiful,” a harmonic tale about the beauties of things that are not actually supposed to be considered beautiful at all. And, by the time Punchline and Wordsworth join Ace on “Travelocity,” a sexed-up ode to groupies around the globe, the Masta has already accomplished something hotter than the summer that he speaks of.
The male-meets-female storytelling of “Bklyn Masala,” pissed-off ramblings of “F.A.Y.,” and the ‘hood tales of “H.O.O.D.” only add to the Ace mystique, as each powerfully takes a listener’s attention for 3 to 4 minutes to a place beyond the stereo and into Ace’s world. Masta Ace is not only not afraid to open up his world to listeners – he practically puts his existence on record the way a poet would put his on paper.
Extra credit homework, class participation, and perfect attendance – Masta Ace has done all three of them exceptionally well over his long and futile hip-hop career. Unfortunately for hip-hop, “A Long Hot Summer” may be the final bell for a career that still has not received the credit it deserves: an A. Here’s to hoping that A also stands for “another” album from the Masta.