Three years after the release of his critically acclaimed jaw-dropper of a second solo album, A Book Of Human Language, Los Angeles MC Aceyalone is back with another compendium of urban-griot tales that takes a few steps away from the stylistic adventurousness for which he’s best known.
Whereas a dense, deep lyricism defined Human Language, as well as his 1995 solo debut, All Balls Don't Bounce, on his latest Aceyalone (pronounced A.C. Alone) makes a brisk and energizing return to what he calls "beats and rhymes, without all the heavy concepts." Titles such as "The Jabberwocky," "The Grandfather Clock" and "Arythamaticulas" typified his first two efforts, but on Accepted Eclectic he turns his golden tongue to tracks like “Golden Mic,” “B-Boy/Real McCoy,” “Rappers, Rappers, Rappers” and “Microphones” if that doesn't make it clear enough, it’s a classic hip-hop record.
"After the last album," Acey explained, "I got classified as a certain kind of artist, and I really want to work as far outside of labels as I can. I know that people need to identify with you in a certain way, but for the most part I wanted to show the other part of me so people could get a feel for me as a whole."
The production work is also fresh thanks, mostly, to Evidence of Dilated Peoples and if anything holds the album together it's Acey’s peerlessly lucid flow. To impose any sort of overarching theme onto Accepted Eclectic would imply forethought on Acey’s part and, to hear him tell it, that just wasn’t part of the process.
"There wasn’t a big concept for this album," he said. "I did that the last time [on Human Language]. This one’s sort of a catalog of ideas I’ve been working on, but I never sat down and said, ‘I’m starting this album.’"
Since the early ‘90s and his role in the massively influential L.A. quartet Freestyle Fellowship whose two albums, To Whom It May Concern (1991) and Innercity Griots (1993), are cornerstones of underground hip-hop Aceyalone has consistently been front and center among the small but commanding group of "Left Coast" rap progressives. In addition to his legendary work with the Fellowship and his stellar solo albums, his collaborations with Haiku D'Etat, Dilated Peoples and, most recently, Abstract Rude (on January's Who Framed the A-Team) and his role behind the independent Project Blowed label have positioned him as a prime mover in the scene. However, it's also kept him from focusing on his own artistry.
"It takes away time, you know," Acey explained. "I would like to be able to concentrate more on my work as an artist, but I want to maintain a lot of the stuff that's going on around me. I wanna push my level of MC'ing and our crew and how we get down and all our efforts, just like anybody else does. We got a big umbrella with a lot of different viewpoints."
However, busy seems to be how Aceyalone likes it. In addition to recently completing a national tour (with Bay Area rapper Rasco) and cobbling together a long-delayed Freestyle Fellowship reunion record, Acey remains a cheerleader and motivator for the L.A. scene. And somehow, he manages to maintain his position as one of the finest MC's in the game.
"All that stuff is happening," he said through a laugh when asked about pending projects. “I got another album I'm gonna release on the heels of this one, because I've been recording so much. But it's business and business sometimes takes a while to get going. But we’re still doing our thing. It'll all happen in time."