Aceyalone – “All Balls”

From his work in Freestyle Fellowship to Haiku D’Etat, I have respect for Aceyalone. An unsung figure in Los Angeles rap, Acey is a member of the Project Blowed collective (along with The Nonce) and one who held it down for alternative rap throughout the ’90s, helping to legitimize a different style for West Coast hip-hop that didn’t subscribe to the gangsta and G-Funk moods which dominated the scene. Acey is definitely an emcee’s emcee. When you hear him in action, his lines are gold, as Acey nimbly bends words, flexes an Oxford dictionary-sized vocab, and employs striking metaphors, similes, and every other figure of speech you can think of into songs packed with tight storytelling and tip-top brags and boasts. He consistently crafts lines which always tend to cruise just right over your head but can still leave you in awe.

Aceyalone’s lyrical gift is out in full force on his debut, All Balls Don’t Bounce. Released in 1995, the album brought him considerable attention from critics and underground fans, many calling him one of hip-hop’s best and brightest. The record’s only weakness were the selection of beats, which were jazzy, minimalist affairs which often came across as dull, but the beats helped to push Acey’s performance into the front and center. It’s unfortunate that the record didn’t push out too many copies, and remained out of print for nearly a decade after its release.

The first track on the album, “All Balls” is an oddity in sound and approach, but masterfully done. Acey swiftly dismantles all competitors with lines that pop, full of awesome dismissals, put downs, and sheer absurdity. Right here, he establishes the fact that he is more talented than you, more dexterous than you, and is operating a whole different level that your feeble mind just can’t comprehend, and the song is pretty much one long fantastic quotable. The beat, produced by The Nonce, is not too shabby either, very abstract in sound with plucks of the bass and horn blasts. It’s a perfect introduction.