Official Biography (courtesy of Decon Records)
"So what we have planned here tonight was something a little bit out of the norm."
- Aceyalone, "Live at the Firehouse Intro," Aceyalone & The Lonely Ones
For legendary emcee Aceyalone, being out of the norm has paradoxically always been the norm. The Los Angeles rapper and founding member of Freestyle Fellowship, Haiku D'Etat and Project Blowed returns with Aceyalone & The Lonely Ones, an album that draws on Phil Spector, 60s girl groups, the J.B.s and a slew of raw, dirty funk for sonic inspiration.
After indulging his love of Jamaican music for 2007's Lightning Strikes, the musically diverse emcee brings his admiration for doo-wop, blues and funk to the forefront. On the title track, finger snaps, falsetto choruses and Rickenbacker guitar dominate the production, a sound closer to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound than today's by-the-numbers beats. "What it Wuz" recalls the same era, but looks more towards Motown and Holland/Dozier/Holland production to emulate and update classic soul groups (think Martha & the Vandellas, Four Tops). "To the Top [Remix]," with its classic Bo Diddley beat, conjures up images of an early-20th century juke joint on Saturday night, while "Can't Hold Back" is pure grimy funk, showcasing Aceyalone's faux-bandleader personage as much as his emcee side. In true James Brown form, the emcee genially barks instructions to his band and engages the crowd in a rowdy call-and-response.
"I'm not from that era, but this is my ode to it," says the emcee of the album's feel. "I'm just putting myself into that character as a showman and bandleader. But I can still rhyme with the best of them. Artists are going to experiment and go different places and I love that whole era anyway."
Growing up in Los Angeles , a 13-year old Aceyalone rolled up on the Santa Monica pier one day to watch breakdancers, only to find various emcees rhyming. On the bus back from the pier, the budding wordsmith immediately started writing what would become the first of countless verses. With the opening of Good Life CafÃ© in 1989, anybody now had the opportunity to showcase their talents, and the spot would eventually become the epicenter of a massive hip-hop movement that spawned Freestyle Fellowship, Jurassic 5 and myriad others. As a member of Freestyle Fellowship, Aceyalone helped craft four albums, including 1993's classic Innercity Griots. Since then, the prolific emcee has been
a co-founder of the storied Project Blowed Collective, Haiku D'Etat (with Mikah 9 and Abstract Rude) and the A-Team (with Abstract Rude.)
In 1995, the emcee released his debut solo album All Balls Don't Bounce, earning massive critical acclaim and Allmusic.com declaring Aceyalone "one of the greatest lyricists the West Coast has ever produced" and Bounce "a spectacular lyrical milestone."
Since then, the emcee has released eight more solo albums, with 2006 alone seeing the release of two albums. "You might say I'm prolific," says Aceyalone, "but I'm still a work in progress. I'm just a conveyer of what's already out there and people just don't see it. I just interpret it." Aceyalone & The Lonely Ones represents another chapter in a consistently evolving career for the emcee. And after nine solo albums and countless more with others, there's still a whole novel to go.
Photo by Rebecca Joelson