Ace Hood – Trials and Tribulations album review

“Bugatti,” the smash first single from Ace Hood’s Cash Money debut and fourth studio set Trials and Tribulations is the epitome of swaggering hip-hop materialism.

Producer Mike Will’s wheezing synths and skittering trap drums blare underneath guest Future’s mindless auto-tuned boast of a hook, “I woke up in a new Bugatti”. Rhymes that gleefully celebrate “chains spent with [your] salary spent”, “fuckin’ bitches of different races”, “fresh gear” and “money, paper, moola” further boost the song’s hood-rich decadence.

Thus, it comes as a surprise that the glistening and now-commonplace consumerism of “Bugatti” isn’t quite characteristic of the majority of Trials and Tribulations.

In fact, despite his pursuit of financial riches, Ace Hood—born Antoine McColister—on the 17-track set, actually reveals himself to be an everyman. Call him the Leopold Bloom of the modern trap-happy Southern hip hop mainstream.

Determination and persistence not only colors Ace’s strident Florida’s twang, it also colors the theme of most of the tracks throughout, making the album’s title quite fitting.

The title track speaks candidly of “all the pain he been through …and “tears that he cried”—even after his late 2000s ascendance under the wing of DJ Khaled—in a manner that elicits both empathy and a sense of relation in the listener.  It’s a far cry from the 1 percenter glorification of “Bugatti”.

Ace’s worry of becoming “Another Statistic”—in a state (and nation) that was home to Trayvon Martin and thousands-if not millions-of underemployed and undereducated black males—on the track of the same name is similarly compelling.

Heartfelt real-life concerns and musings about the women in his life who molded and supported him throughout (his companion and child to his mother on the plush and possible future single “Rider” and “Mama”, respectively), the ups and mostly downs of fame (“Before the Rollie” and “The Come Up”, featuring the cornbread, fish and collard greens-soaked vocals of Anthony Hamilton), faith (the thunderous “My Bible”) and of course, “Hope” provide for an appealingly well-rounded listen, thematically.

Musically, it’s a different story. The same trap sound—all thumping bass, slowly skipping 808s and synthetic horns—that dominate urban radio at the moment provide the backdrops.  While it’s obvious that the sound is clearly Ace’s bread and butter, it becomes redundant throughout Trials’ hour-long duration. So much so that the thunderous drums, maniacal piano loop and sampled female church wails of the aforementioned “My Bible” come as a relief, of sorts.

Like most other major label hip hop releases, Trails is overstuffed with strategic big-name camoes—including the now-predictable roll call of new label honcos Birdman and  Lil Wayne; Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Future, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz—distract from Ace’s hard-won storytelling.

Despite the now-commonplace elements—same-y radio-friendly production and a surplus of guest celebrity voices—Trials and Tribulations turns out to be a step in the right direction for a still-young buck who is not quite a rookie anymore.


Ace Hood – Blood, Sweat & Tears album review

To be backed by DJ Khaled obviously means you must be doing something right. This is the case for rapper Ace Hood, whose delivery is an interesting combination of confident, bravado-heavy flow, and rhymes that at times can be fast and immediate, or slow and carefully articulated, resulting in some pretty clever lyricism. Following his ’09 album Ruthless, Ace Hood returns with Blood, Sweat & Tears, an album that showcases that the artist has what it takes to break out into the spotlight.

Beats are an important thing, especially when you’re delivering strong and heavy rhymes. This is the case with Blood, Sweat & Tears. Behind every flow and every narrative, lies explosive beats from producers such as, Lex Luger, the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and Young Fyre, among others. “Go N Get It” and its make-money-by-any-means-necessary depiction, is backed by Lex Luger’s assortment of bombastic percussion and eerie synths.

“Hustle Hard,” the album’s first single, stands out for its in your face sound. “Out here tryin’ to get it each and every way,” says Ace Hood, another Lex Luger production behind Hood’s onslaught.

“Memory Lane” has Ace Hood reminiscing on his past, and those experiences leading to who he is now. “Letter to My Ex’s” is not Ace Hood’s vulnerable track; he still remains hard, sneering about someone whose significance is no longer important over seductive keys.

“Lord Knows” displays Ace Hood’s faith, regardless of his increased success and fame. You can truly hear the emotions being conveyed in this track as Ace Hood provides a narrative of hardships and accomplishments.

“Spoke to My Momma” could very well be today’s “Dear Momma.” Similar to “Lord Knows,” “Spoke to My Momma” shows Ace Hood battling with the issues of his life, while trying to make the best of his life. The minimal production contributes to Ace Hood’s restrained delivery, as he goes for a much more effective delivery, rather than the rapid-fire rhymes he sometimes relies on.

Ace Hood is not afraid to lay his thoughts on the line; one minute he can be Mr. Macho, touting around with rhymes backed by pride and confidence. Another minute, he can be open and humble, putting family and friends before himself. Blood, Sweat & Tears is an album that shows that Ace Hood is growing as an artist, and as long as he keeps that up, the spotlight he has so rightfully earned will continue to grow.

Ace Hood - Blood, Sweat & Tears album review


DJ Khaled – Welcome To My Hood (Remix) featuring Ludacris, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Twista, Mavado, Birdman, Ace Hood, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Bun B & Waka Flocka

Artist: DJ Khaled featuring Ludacris, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Twista, Mavado, Birdman, Ace Hood, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Bun B & Waka Flocka
Song: “Welcome To My Hood (Remix)”
Producer: The Renegades
Album: We The Best Forever
Director: Dayo


Ace Hood – Cash Flow featuring Rick Ross and T-Pain video

Ace Hood – Cash Flow featuring Rick Ross and T-Pain video