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Ace Hood, The Statement 2

Ace Hood came into his own in 2011. Thanks to his smash “Hustle Hard,” as well as the countless remixes it triggered, the Florida rapper kicked off the year with momentum unlike he had experienced in the previous few years of his brief career. He followed up during the summer with “Go N Get It,” another block anthem, as well as “Body 2 Body,” his Chris Brown-assisted single for the ladies, which peaked at No. 6 of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (and is at No. 12 this week). Though his Blood, Sweat & Tears album wasn’t particularly successful commercially, the long-haired rhymer has been carving out his identity, a process he looks to further with his The Statement 2 mixtape.

Having become synonymous with that grimey hustler music, Ace Hood focuses on what he does best throughout the tape. Joints like “The Realest Livin’,” alongside Rick Ross, “Free My Niggas” and “My Speakers” all have the speckled drums and dark sounding production that Mista Hood has found success rapping over. The insatiable hunger in his flow and make-it-out-by-any-means-necessary approach continue to compliment the sound well.

He does switch up the routine occasionally. On “Forgiv’n,” over a flip of Nas’s DJ Premier-produced “Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park),” the 23-year-old slows things down and gets personal: “Daddy look at your son/Millionaire in the makin’/I pray one day that you call/’Cause you proud and happy I made it/Never, probably, maybe/Leaving was kinda shady/Hope this eats you alive/My tears no longer cried,” he raps. Teaming up with Busta Rhymes and Yelawolf for “Shit Done Got Real” creates another standout, even if the two guests outshine their host.

Ace Hood does what he does, and usually doesn’t stray too much from that. As long as he hones in on that direction, as he’s being doing throughout 2011 and again with The Statement 2, that’s nothing he needs to worry about changing. —Adam Fleischer

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