Hearing that the Masta Ace/DOOM collaboration MA_DOOM: Son of Yvonne was finally completed, just waiting for a release date, my ears perked up. I hadn’t really been checking for Brooklyn’s Masta Ace since he dropped the well received LP, The Show, with eMC in 2008. The news that Masta Ace had just blessed a selection of Special Herbs, the eclectic instrumental collection DOOM started producing in 2001, and would now be partially realized on a full length album, whet my appetite, because Masta Ace is a most capable emcee and DOOM is the frenetic DOOM. Despite little mainstream success over his career, Masta Ace has been a mainstay in the underground/indie scene, having dropped several critically acclaimed albums including 1995’s Sittin’ On Chrome and 2001’s Disposable Arts, solidifying his relevancy more than 20 years removed from his appearance on the Juice Crew cut, “The Symphony”.
The man with the mask, DOOM, has a rich discography including acclaimed LP’s, Madvillainy, and Danger Doom: The Mouse and The Mask, Operation: Doomsday. The former Zev Luv X, releasing several LP’s under various aliases including Viktor Vaughn and King Geedorah, has cemented his status as one of the most innovative and respected indie rap artists in the industry. DOOM’s ear for crafting sounds, familiar or abstract, and penchant for sampling dusty old soul and jazz records and molding them into tight musical productions have defined his storied career.
Produced entirely by DOOM, the Son of Yvonne LP, has Masta Ace delivering a thumping, semi-biographical, slick narrative, a ‘thank you’ to beloved mother, Yvonne, the positive driving force in his life until her 2005 passing. This loving tribute of a mother, her treasured vinyl collection, and never-ending support for her son’s passions, sets the tone for this release, a collection of humorous skits and fond references of years past growing up in NYC.
On “Ninteen Seventy Something,” Masta Ace ‘borrows’ his mom’s funk and soul records, takes them to his friend’s house to groove to and brings them back, all while trying to conceal the misdeeds from his questioning mother and hopefully get them back into their rightful place without scratching any of them. Masta Ace delves into adult issues in the entertaining “Slow Down,” a night of too much liquor and not being in the right mind state to deal with beautiful, conniving women. On tales like these, backed by DOOM’s production, it’s almost feels like we are diving right into Yvonne’s vinyl, not surprising considering DOOM’s soul influences, but you feel the connection. Masta Ace has carefully cherry-picked some of the best Herbs for this project, emerging with a dish of classic production quite possibly reflecting the very sounds he used to hear on his mother’s Earth Wind and Fire records.
Son of Yvonne is a well-executed hip hop album and one of the best rap music releases of 2012. It’s important to listen to this concept album in its entirety, because as music fans, we should be able to digest an entire LP, not just the one or two hit songs. If you’re just going to purchase one or two songs off this, you are missing the point and more importantly, missing out. The storytelling on this album brought to mind the great narrative throughout Prince Paul’s LP, A Prince Among Thieves, in terms of reeling you in and not letting you go until the entire album had played. APAT is storytelling at its best, but that album scripts a much darker and complex story than Son of Yvonne, which essentially is a celebration of life. Masta Ace weaves tales of adolescence, community, the realities of growing up in a single parent home, and his career as a rap artist on this album that clocks in at just under 43 minutes. The tracks are concise and the beats mesh well with Masta Ace’s deliberate flow and delivery. Tracks like “Da’ Pro,” “Me and My Gang,” “I Did It” and “Think I Am” featuring Big Daddy Kane & DOOM, are strong and reinforce that this pairing of Masta Ace and DOOM was not a mistake.
The only thing that prevents this album from being completely fresh is the absence of new production from DOOM. While most of the beats used on Son of Yvonne are being used for the first time, they were all released prior to 2006, which is not a detriment, but may sound dated to some. Other Special Herbs have been used on albums by Ghostface Killah, John Robinson and Joey Bada$$ in recent years, but no matter the year of release, the Special Herbs stand the test of time and now with veteran emcee Masta Ace dropping gems over these tracks, we have a release reminiscent of the golden era of hip hop, a throwback record made in 2012.
Purchase Masta Ace: Ma_DOOM: Son of Yvonne via Fat Beats.