Who says that hip-hop is a young man’s game? Certainly not the golden-era tandem of Masta Ace and Edo G. The longtime wordsmiths responsible for early ’90s staples SlaughtaHouse and Life of a Kid in the Ghetto, respectively, join forces on Arts & Entertainment to prove that they are far from over the hill when it comes to this thing called hip-hop.
For the most part, Ace and Edo do what is expected of them—kick well-crafted rhymes over solid beats. They excel on “Little Young,” a conceptual take on rapper prefixes, and on the ode to their audience, “Fans,” featuring Large Professor. Appreciating the adulation is one thing, but the duo faces the harsh reality that hip-hop is quickly becoming no country for old men. On the reflective “Good Music,” with De La Soul’s Posdnuos, Edo turns the tide, spitting, “It’s for the classic old heads and new beginners/True rap, not you pretenders.”
Coincidentally, purists may be a bit thrown when the album takes a sharp turn on the collaboration with alt-rock outfit Chester French, “Dancin’ Like a White Girl.” The jovial guitar-driven track is all in good fun but a complete departure from the boom-bap-infused album. At its best, the album’s production provides instant head-nodding appeal. However, on several occasions, things can run a bit stale, such as on the sleepy “Round and Round” and the sparsely laid “Hands High.” At a hefty 19 tracks, it wouldn’t have hurt to cut four of the six interludes, to keep things lean and to the point.
Long story short, A&E is a solid album that won’t win over new fans but will definitely keep faithful followers pleased. —Andreas Hale