Band of the Day

2012.03.24

Aceyalone

Legendary West Coast emcee recreates and updates a bygone era of music
'Cause we live by the word and we die by the sword, these here are strange days and we here are strong.
lyrics from The March

Aceyalone (pronounced A-C-Alone, and sometimes known as Acey) is the stage name of Eddie Hayes, a rapper from Los Angeles, California. Since the early 90s, Hayes has had an active role in the West Coast hip hop scene. He is a founding member of the legendary hip hop group Freestyle Fellowship, a member of Haiku D'Etat (with Mikah 9 and Abstract Rude), The A-Team (also with Abstract Rude), and a co-founder of Project Blowed. In 1995, Aceyalone released his critically-acclaimed debut solo album, All Balls Don't Bounce, on Capitol Records. This was followed by 1998's A Book of Human Language, after which Aceyalone took a three-year absence from the hip hop scene. He returned with Accepted Electric in 2001, released through the label Ground Control. Since then he's released albums with his other groups, and six more solo albums, including 2006's Magnificent City (with RJD2), and 2009's Aceyalone & the Lonely Ones, released through Decon Records. Aceyalone & the Lonely Ones Part 2 is slated to be released later in 2012.

“You see, the kids, they listen to the rap music which gives them the brain damage. With their hippin' and the hoppin', and the bippin' and the boppin'...” Although this Bill Cosby spoof quote (from an old episode of The Simpsons) is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it still resonates today. How many times have you heard people brush off the entire genre of hip hop, based solely on what they've heard in mainstream hip hop? Perhaps they haven't found anything in the music to connect with, or just don't enjoy the sound of rapping. If you're finding yourself nodding in agreement with any of these statements, we dare you to give someone like Aceyalone (pronounced A-C-alone) a chance. The emcee is by no means an up-and-coming artist—he's been making music for over twenty years now, since first stepping out as a founding member of legendary hip hop group, Freestyle Fellowship. Not one to sit still, Aceyalone is also a member of Haiku D'Etat (with Mikah 9 and Abstract Rude), The A-Team (also with Abstract Rude), and a co-founder of Project Blowed. Since first stepping out as a solo artist in 1995, Aceyalone has released nine albums of his own. Experimenting outside of the hip hop genre, the rapper released the dancehall/reggae-inspired album, Lightning Strikes, in 2007. On his latest album Aceyalone & the Lonely Ones, the rapper tries his hand at sonic time travel. It's his homage to 50s doo-wop, 60s Motown, and 70s funk, with producer Bionik at the helm. They could have easily stuck to the generic formula of rapping over samples of old music—but instead, they've created every single sound on this album, from the live band and crowd cheers in opening track “Live At The Firehouse Intro,” to the snapping and barbershop quartet in “Outro Bionik Quartet.” Transporting you to a live concert feel is “Can't Hold Back,” which starts with the faint sound of a crowd clapping before funk-flavored horns groove alongside Acey's flow. In true bandleader form, he leads the crowd to enthusiastically shout, “cold water!” as he commands, “say 'cold water!'” Looking back to a couple decades earlier, with the help of female vocalist Treasure Davis, “Step Up” is Aceyalone's take on doo-wop and 50s girl groups. Davis' high, girlish vocals contrast perfectly with Acey's rapping, and the result is something that's retro, yet still retains a modern edginess. By moving across decades and styles of music, Aceyalone has created his own unique style of hip hop that has as much cross-genre appeal as it has cross-generational appeal.