You know one thing hip-hop is lacking these days? Reverence. Paying dues isn’t the priority it once was and it affects the quality of the music because it takes away the competence level that was understood to be there in hip-hop’s past. It took more than picking up a microphone and shouting rhymes into it before a young man or woman was given the title of “emcee” or “rapper.” It took more than having a bunch of guys rapping over a looped sample (that someone else did altogether) and shouting “We Da BEST!” to be called a DJ. A person with one dance move wasn’t called a break-dancer. These titles needed to be earned and the pursuit of them created character and skill. Individuality was cultivated out of the hard work an aspiring rapper put forth just for the opportunity to be allowed on the microphone at a party or event.
While listening to Masta Ace & MF DOOM, combining to form MA_DOOM, you’ll hear this reverence. The duo’s album “Son of Yvonne” has these characteristics in spades. With Masta Ace doing nearly all of the rhyming and MF DOOM providing the production, what’s presented here is two hip-hop veterans who know themselves and their worth in hip-hop and are more proud of what they’ve given the art form rather than what they’ve gotten out of it. In fact, this album is the story of Masta Ace’s youth and the paying of those dues I mentioned earlier. Aside from the music, there are several skits in which a young man narrates this story as a 12-year old Duval Clear (Ace’s government name). The very first song ‘Nineteen Seventy-Something’ describes Masta Ace’s need for music to rap over and “borrowing” his mother Yvonne’s records to do so. It’s clear from the beginning that this is going to be a light-hearted listen. There’s very little, if any, profanity in this album. No aggressive music here to speak of. ‘Son of Yvonne’ is actually very comical (you’re even treated to an outtake reel afterwards).
MF DOOM (if you were unaware, the rule is “all caps whenever you spell the man’s name”) has more beats at this point than the Chicago Cubs have disappointed fans. DOOM fans will know nearly every beat on this project from his previous works, but the ones chosen were definitely some of his better songs. Ace does them all justice in what turns out to be an album that’s just a great deal of fun to listen to. The topics range from Duval’s friends growing up: “Now first we got E, one of them crazy brothers / Got ten kids by ten different baby mothers. And another on the way, did you get that, cousin? / Hope he get that snip-snip before he get that dozen,” from ‘Me and My Gang’ to getting caught rifling through his mom’s records: “Can’t explain that I was just borrowing it / Moms on the rampage looking for her Parliament” on the previously mentioned ‘Nineteen Seventy-Something.’ Narrative albums in which the songs seem to be almost inseparable from one another are generally a treat because rappers daring enough to try this sort of thing almost always have the ability to pull it off (almost). Masta Ace definitely puts on an enjoyable lyrical display that is less about intricate wordplay and more about pulling you into the music. After only two or three listens, you’ll be rapping along with every song more than likely. It’s very easy to follow and it’s one of those hip-hop records you can play anywhere. As I said before, it’s not profane…so the older crowd may even like this one.
There’s not one piece of music on this album that isn’t done by MF DOOM, but ‘Son of Yvonne’ does offer a few features on vocals such as Big Daddy Kane (YES), MF DOOM (AWESOME), Pav Bundy (WHO?), and Milani the Artis (HUH?). Jokes aside, the features are all great and offer the same fun easy-listening vibe. They act as characters in Duval’s story and don’t go off on their own tangents or anything. If you’re a fan of pure hip-hop, you can’t go wrong with ‘Son of Yvonne.’ I literally do not have one bad thing to say about it. Well, except the fact that I miss records like this one popping up on a regular basis.