RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Wednesday, May 23

EWA100 - #42. Masta Ace - Born To Roll

42. Masta Ace Incorporated - Born To Roll (Delicious Vinyl. 1993. From the LP SlaughtaHouse)

Mike Dikk: I’ve always viewed Masta Ace as a rapper in a class by himself. Not necessarily because of his ridiculous rapping skills. That goes without question. See, Masta Ace has been around basically forever, but his fanbase is decidedly foreign and/or underground. Although, it’s not the same way Kool Keith has a decidedly foreign/underground fanbase. Ace doesn’t fall under that whole dorm room sci-fi nerd rap category. He’s more for people who have been down with rap music for a long time and remember him from back when he still had videos on television.
This is why it’s hard for me to write about him without feeling like someone will jump out of the bushes and out-Masta Ace me because I’m really not even close to an expert on all things Ace. I spent most of Masta Ace’s early career getting him mixed up with Mellow Man Ace, who, for the most part, sucked, because he rapped in spanglish, which was a style of speak that would later be turned into some movie starring Adam Sandler and the Golden Girls that I’ve never seen because I don’t have a vagina. The confusion caused me to avoid Masta Ace for a while, which I kind of regret now, but I’ve managed to catch up with his discography over the past few years. I would hear his songs here and there while growing up but I could never shake off that, in my mind, this was the dude who sang “Mentirosa”. I honestly didn’t find out about his flourishing 21st century album output until early last year, and just like everyone else who’s bothered to listen to them, I now find those records completely essential. Ace really needs to get mentioned on more mainstream type Top MCs lists, but he doesn’t seem to be bitter about it or anything. Hell, Kool Keith has made an entire career out of being bitter about being overlooked in the overall Old School legend canon, but Ace is humble enough to just let it go and put out top quality shit well past the average rapper’s expiration date.
I don’t really know how the people in the Internet Masta Ace Cult feel about “Born To Roll”. I don’t know if they would find it blasphemous that in our Expert Whiteboy opinion, we chose a remix to another song as the all-time best Masta Ace song ever, but come on man. The bassline and drums on this track are simply destructive. Buildings are crumbling in my head just from thinking about it. I can’t even imagine how Masta Ace and his I.N.C. crew reacted when they first heard this beat. I bet it was similar to how I react when I beat a fierce competitor in Madden, except multiplied by a hundred billion.
There’s a good amount of songs on this list that I find personally awesome, and I’d completely understand if someone else didn’t feel the same way about the song, but this is a legit 100% official top 100 hip hop jam of all-time. Fuck, this is the definition of JAM. To top it all off, Ace is rocking a motherfuckin’ Neal Anderson jersey in the video. How did he even FIND a Neal Anderson jersey?

Raven Mack: I can tell you exactly where I lived when I bought the "Jeep Ass Nigguh" single. It was a shitty apartment on Granby in Richmond, lead paint, one roommate was unemployable good friend and the other seriously would lay in bed all day long and eat nothing but potato wedges from the gas station on the block. No shit. I remember this time so well, because that was a four or five month period I lived there, and it was before the heroin junkie or the serial rapist moved in. But I bought the "Jeep Ass Nigguh" single, and still have it to this day, off the Slaughtahouse, Inc. record, because that single was on clear vinyl, which, when you consider hip hop is a DJ-oriented form where dudes have to be able to see the grooves of a record, is a very fucked-up and asshole thing to do. "Jeep Ass Nigguh" was one of my favorite songs off that album, which is a classic album.
I don't know when it was - maybe the video or a mix show or whatever - but when I heard this song again as "Born To Roll" over that insane bassline, it cracked my skull. I bought that single too, which came out officially as part of the Slaughtahouse, Inc. hype brigade, but was so damned awesome it became the main song off of Masta Ace's next album. Seriously, you can argue with people over shit like whether the Muggs or Pete Rock "Jump Around" was greater, or any number of remixes, but it's always a close argument. There is no close argument between these two versions, and not because one is so much better than the other, but because it's like two completely different songs. I can't think of any other song ever that's been done twice in two such completely different ways, yet both being worth your time.
And I still have both singles, "Jeep Ass Nigguh" on clear vinyl and "Born To Roll" on regular folks vinyl, though I think I probably play the "Born To Roll" about ten times to every time I play the other. If we had talked about shit on this list in depth and not just voted time and time again and me and Mike had talked up this song like we just did, it probably would've finished much higher.
Also, at the time, with his shit being so on-time and the greatest shit coming out, I seriously had to be convinced it was the same Masta Ace who was in the Juice Crew. I mean, you read a shitty Source column and you know it's the same dude, but it was hard to believe. Mike made the Kool Keith mention, and I can just tell you right now that Kool Keith doesn't make this list, so fuck off hipster fuckwads and go pick up a 12-pack of PBR to go watch World Cup soccer and shit. Masta Ace was two times better than Kool Keith back when it was the '80s and nobody had solo careers really and one was ultramagnetic and the other was juicy, and then in the '90s, Masta Ace was still four times better, just he didn't rap about schizophrenic bullshit all day long, which confuses hipsters into thinking somebody's clever.

Download: Masta Ace - Born To Roll

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