We last heard from Masta Ace in 1990 with his debut album Take A Look Around. The album didn’t move a ton of units, but it was a critical success. Nearly three years later Ace would switch labels (leaving Cold Chillin’ for Delicious Vinyl), regroup, literally, and come back as Masta Ace Incorporated for his second release SlaughtaHouse. Ace adds the “Incorporated” to the name because his UmDada crew members (Lord Digga, Paula Perry, Uneek, Eyce, Latief, the Bluez Brothas, etc.) would make appearances and contribute to the production on SlaughtaHouse. Interestingly enough (to me, at least), Marley Marl doesn’t produce not one song on SlaughtaHouse. I’ve always wonder if Ace and Marley fell out after Take A Look Around, since Marley hasn’t produced an Ace song since. But I digress.
Like his previous release, SlaughtaHouse didn’t do well numbers wise, but was respected and appreciated by hip-hop heads alike. SlaughtaHouse would also mark the beginning of Ace’s current stretch of concept albums, including one he’s release just this year.
A Walk Thru The Valley – SlaughtaHouse opens with a bassy backdrop over heavy drums that Ace uses to spit a poem about the paranoia and cautious mind state a brother naturally acquires growing up in the concrete jungle. Not terrible, but I’ve heard better. The song ends with a short interlude that has Professor Masta Ace teaching a course in Hardcore Rap 101. He hilariously instructs his students to embrace all the clichés of hardcore hip-hop (“now when you rhyme, you have to say that you smoke blunts…also, you have to mention that you drink forties… you have to mention that you carry a nine millimeter, a tech nine, a mac ten, M-16, or an oozy”), setting up the next song…
SlaughtaHouse – This one opens with the faux rap duo of MC Negro and Ignorant MC, spewing out violent rhymes, as they promote their new LP, Brains On The Sidewalk. Then Paula Perry and Lord Digga interrupt things, introducing Masta Ace, as Uneek’s hard drums come in and Ace spews battle rhymes declaring war on all wack emcees.
Diggadome (Intro) – Over a simple instrumental, Lord Digga drops in to give the listener a formal introduction to SlaughtaHouse, and gives a brief explanation on the title and concept behind the album.
Late Model Sedan – Latief lays down a jazzy up tempo instrumental that Ace uses to share the trials and tribulations of living in the hood. There is also an underlying story line about some kids who do a shooting and get away in a late-model sedan, hence the song title. This was pretty solid.
Jeep Ass Niguh – “Braniac dum dums, bust the scientifical, approach to the course and the force is centrifugal” may be the illest opening bar to a song in the history of hip-hop. Casual hip-hop fans may recognize the lyrics to this song from “Born To Roll”, which is actually the remix to this song (which was included on Ace’s third release, Sittin’ On Chrome). The Bluez Brothas hook up a disgustingly sick backdrop that Ace uses to celebrate his jeep’s bangin’ sound system. “Born To Roll” is easily the biggest hit in Ace’s catalog, and I love the instrumental on it, but the backdrop on the original is dope in its own right.
The Big East – Ace drops freestyle rhymes over a smooth mid-tempo backdrop, brought to you courtesy of The Beatheads. Lord Digga provides the hook, and Ace is kind enough to let him drop half of a bar. What a generous guy.
Jack B. Nimble – Over a simple Uneek instrumental, Ace tells the story of a drug dealer named Jack and his run in, and run from, the police. Decent song, but definitely one of my least favorites on the album.
Boom Bashin’ – Ace hooks up a monster instrumental with an extra nasty bass line, and drops pretty solid battle rhymes, with Lord Digga again stopping by to handle the hook and drops a few bars. Again, Ace’s backdrop is bananas.
The Mad Wunz – Ace’s rhymes are all over the place on this one. And his new-found “onbeat-offbeat” flow is on full display, while Lord Digga continues to do what he’s done for pretty much all the other songs on SlaughtaHouse to this point. Latief’s jazzy loop and heavy drums sound great behind Ace’s rhymes. The song ends with Ace talking about slavery and how the oppressors now use “cages” (aka the hood), to keep blacks in bondage, before going into the next song…
Style Wars – Masta Ace goes to war with himself, mixing conscious/militant rhymes with braggadocio lines, sometimes within the same bar. And what would a song on SlaughtaHouse be without Lord Digga’s minimal contribution? Ace and Digga’s rhymes are cool, but Ace’s hard instrumental is the true star of this one.
Who U Jackin’? – Paula Perry makes her only real appearance on SlaughtaHouse (no, I’m not counting the minimal contribution she made to the title song), as she plays the prey to Masta Ace’s stick up kid character. I know the subject matter sounds heavy, but Ace, Paula and the playful but solid Bluez Brothas instrumental, help keep things light. Shout out to Ace for including the question mark in the song title.
Rollin’ Wit UmDada – Ace uses this song to talk about a night out partying with his crew, UmDada. Ace’s rhymes aren’t that impressive on this one, but I love his instrumental, especially the warm horn loop brought in on the hook. The second part of this is a hidden track that has Ace kickin’ a playful freestyle over a backdrop that sounds a lot like one used on EPMD’s “Hardcore”.
Ain’t U Da Masta – More Ace freestyle rhymes over a decent Bluez Brothas’ backdrop, driven by a bluesy-drunken piano loop.
Crazy Drunken Style – The song begins with Ace and company making Lord Digga’s name into an acronym and spitting out comical randomness for each of the letters in his name as they spell it out over a simple, but dope, drum beat. Then the Bluez Brothas sick instrumental drops and Digga and Ace take turns spitting on it. Neither one of them sound spectacular on it, but they get the job done.
Don’t F*** Around (Outro) – An uncredited female (is that Paula Perry?) sings/sends a warning to all would be adversaries to not mess (or fuck) around with UmDada. The instrumental is built around the same loop that Dr. Dre previously used and made into a hit record for The D.O.C.’s “It’s Funky Enough”, which kind of takes away from Ace’s flipage of the loop.
Saturday Nite Live – Ace closes SlaughtaHouse with this cipher cut, inviting Uneek, Lord Digga and Eyce to join him (where’s Paula Perry at?), as they each take turns slicing up Uneek’s hard backdrop. It’s always nice to hear a cipher joint that each party involved holds their own weight.
On his debut album Take A Look Around, Ace had a lot to say. And while it had its share of fun freestyles, it also had a lot of well thought out pieces on social commentary. I won’t say SlaughtaHouse is without substance, but Ace is definitely more focused on battle rhymes and showing off his new “onbeat-offbeat” flow than sound song concepts. Surprisingly, with all the hands involved in the production on SlaughtaHouse, it still manages to maintain a quality and cohesive soundscape. SlaughtaHouse definitely shows a different side of Ace than his fans were accustom to, but it’s still a dope album and holds up pretty well, twenty plus years after its release.