Friday, March 10, 2006

Not even close to "Magnificent" City

Aceyalone and RJD2 recently released an album-length collaboration called "Magnificent City," which caught my eye because I'm a big fan of a couple of Acey projects ("All Balls Don't Bounce" is one of the few real contributions to hip-hop that the Project Blowed have made) as well as RJ's "Deadringer" on Definitive Jux. I know that these two artists are capable of brilliant work, but you couldn't tell from hearing this album. The thing that really shocked me is how little originality Acey brought to this album, and how little work he really seems to have put into it. A lot of these songs are pretty unoriginal from content to execution, especially the "weed song," "High Lights." Acey delivers some verses that make me wince in pain - it sounds as though he either freestyles a large portion of the album, or he didn't get to go over the songs many times before going into the recording booth. Being an MC myself, I've gotten familiar with how I sound when I'm trying my best to stay on top of the beat because I'm just not that familiar with it. What comes out is a lack of synchronicity, and the vocals sound like one distinct thing, the beat another distinct thing. Like they're not completely aware of one another's existence. That's how this sounds to me. I'm not alone in this: Pitchfork (not that I want to be in their haterrific dugout) gave this album a pretty ballsy 2.3 out of 10.0.

I'm one of the few people I know who has been really disappointed by everything RJD2 has done since Deadringer. I thought The Horror was okay, but "Since We Last Spoke" was about 8 filler tracks served up alongside the indescribably awesome "Through The Walls" and "Making Days Longer". I'm not saying this album is unlistenable, and I wouldn't give it less than a 5.0 if asked to rate it, but it does sound hurried. Having worked with hip-hop for a long time now, this whole album reminds me of the songs that I've made with friends when we didn't have much time - when someone played some beats and I dug up some lyrics that kind of fit the beat and we recorded within a couple of days of deciding to make a song. Just inchoate, somehow. Half-baked and disappointing.


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