October 18, 2001

Album Review

After a six-year period of disillusionment with the rap game, one-time Juice Crew member Masta Ace returned with this supposed sayonara album that reads like a bittersweet memoir. Though Ace had been active in the underground scene since the release of 1995's Sittin' on Chrome, appearing on a number of singles and contributing memorable verses to various collaborations, the artist's disdain for the industry and disgust with his contemporaries kept him out of the studio for lengthy recording sessions. Feeling that rap's heyday had passed with the deaths of rappers like 2Pac and Biggie, and seeing a media- and market-influenced, watered-down product, Disposable Arts broods with anger, cynicism, and satire for the modern rapper bent purely on trend capitalizing. The paradox here is that Ace himself seems to seek and feels worthy of the same multimillion that he accuses his contemporaries of securing through less-than-artistic means. The burden of underground respect that nets only underground sales seems to be the primary source of Ace's frustration. While smacking of classic player-hate, Ace's response for the Cash Money Millionaires and Roc-A-Fellas of hip-hop is: "the rap game's a book and I read mad chapters/and if you ask me, it ain't enough Madd Rappers." Ace enlists a healthy balance of true schoolers (King T and Greg Nice) and eccentric up-and-comers (Punch, Words, and the delightfully weird MC Paul Barman) for the project. Musically, the album offers anything but the disposable; highlights include the eerie narrative "Take a Walk," the fierce dis record "Acknowledge," and the ingenious "Alphabet Soup," where Ace runs through the alphabet with some witty old-school rhymes. More four-alarm flames light up "Something's Wrong," the psychedelic "Dear Diary," and the thumping homage to the West Coast, "P.T.A.." A knockout punchliner with an airtight flow and delivery, Ace, in the face of everything he hates about hip-hop, turns in his most expansively satisfying work. With 24 strong tracks and only faint signs of misstep, Disposable Arts is tightly wrought thematically, musically, and lyrically, not to mention one heck of a parting shot. Most hip-hop albums of the modern era are lucky to cover even one of these areas.
M.F. DiBella, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. The Release
  2. Too Long
  3. Block Episode
  4. Ida Commercial
  5. Don't Understand
  6. Goodbye Lisa
  7. Hold U
  8. Every Other Day
  9. Roommates Meet
  10. Take a Walk
  11. Something's Wrong
  12. The Classes
  13. Acknowledge
  14. Enuff
  15. Watching the Game
  16. Unfriendly Game
  17. Alphabet Soup
  18. Dear Yvette
  19. I Like Dat
  20. P.T.A.
  21. Type I Hate
  22. Dear Diary
  23. Last Rights
  24. No Regrets
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