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Ace Hood – ‘Trials & Tribulations’ Album Review

Ace Hood is still trying to figure it out. After releasing three albums and a bevy of mixtapes, the Florida rapper has yet to find a winning formula for success, both in terms of the quality of his music and in album sales. Certain projects, like last year’s reflective Starvation mixtape, have shown glimmers of promise, while others, including his latest mixtape, Starvation II, have been a step backward. And his proper albums, despite being backed by major promo, have been mostly forgettable and have failed to make a dent on the charts. This hasn’t diminished his support group, though; DJ Khaled still views him as a sort of protégé, while his Cash Money cohorts have decided to welcome him to the family officially by signing him. Thankfully, Ace decided not to squander the opportunity, creating his most personal and insightful record yet in Trials & Tribulations.

The album begins with a church sermon intro, setting a tone of personal conflict. Ace is unsure of whether he wants to be a man of God or the streets, and he devotes a majority of the songs on Trials & Tribulations trying to answer that question. It’s a conflict we’ve heard many times in hip-hop – choosing between a life of crime and innocence – but it can still be compelling when pulled off correctly. Ace manages to be semi-successful at it by mixing together lyrics of self-deprecation and social commentary. On the title track, for example, he begs for forgiveness after listing off his personal demons, from his hustles as a teenager to the recent death of his infant daughter, which he seemingly holds himself accountable for. Elsewhere, on “Another Statistic,” he addresses the difficulties young Black men face growing up, citing Trayvon Martin and how he was “another young innocent brother who met a bully.” He even takes on the Aurora and Newtown shootings on “Fuck Da World” and questions the priorities of political officials in the aftermath. At times, his attempts to sound conscious come off a little too vague and generic, but you can’t knock him for encouraging the listener to dig deeper.

Of course, not all of Trials & Tribulations is introspective. Ace is still aiming for the club on certain tracks. His enthusiasm and rapid-fire flow sound at home over the menacing summer jam “Bugatti” with the warbling hook of Future or on the triumphant “We Outchea”. But on other tracks, like the flimsy Chris Brown-assisted “Rider,” he comes off clumsy and out of place.

The album’s production also holds him back at times. Like most music coming out of Florida right now, Trials & Tribulations is built on hard-hitting, snare-driven bass music. These beats are infectious and perfectly suited for Ace’s relentless style of rapping, but they can get repetitive after a while. By the time Young Chop’s looming backdrop for “Fuck Da World” comes on, you feel as though you’ve heard it a couple times over already. The sample-based production on tracks like “My Bible” and the piano chords on “The Come Up” are a much-needed change of pace.

Regardless of its hiccups, though, Trials & Tribulations is a step forward for Ace. Although he’ll always be best known for tracks like “Hustle Hard” and “Bugatti”, it’ll be his more personal work that’ll separate him from the pack. Perhaps this will be the album that will finally put him in the limelight.—Reed Jackson

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  • TXrepresenta

    this is what happens when you fuck with ymcmb

  • Ernest Harper

    this review is on point, beats should get a XL though

  • corleonee

    ace hoods albums are always worth a listen but he’s on beast mode when he drops a mixtape. shit is dangerous….starvation 2 oh lord.

  • Josiah Claudio

    illuminati thats why its hard to reach success ace hood the realest out right now !

  • https://twitter.com/KB_116 Mr. 116

    Ace Hood should join another label. He has potential to be great.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/bands/default.cfm?bandID=1292199 Arm And Hammer Beats

    Ace Hood is the shit Starvation is a motivation mixtape. The most underrated in my opinion. Fuck the bullshit.

  • Ramon Rojo

    XXL…….we agree


    Beats XL lyrics M originality M final score = L

  • Joe Gabriel

    Ace Hood would have more success with with MMG i feel like

    • Pray4Me421

      yeah but you got meek mill on there. meek is ace with no dreads.

  • Rae HDvisionary Wiley

    Overall I feel like its a complete album…I think he was a lil overly spiritual at times and was reaching in certain songs, but I felt where he was comin from..Joinin YMCMB isn’t necessarily a bad choice, its juss not the best choice..His sounds juss doesn’t fit wit them NOW like it would BACK THEN..I neva heard his mixtapes, but I kno wat he is capable of..The industry is not gon make ACE a star anywayz and that’s real…And Im pretty sure He is content in his place in the game..I would’ve gave Ace a XL on his lyrics on the fact he was speakin for a lot of ppl in the streets who fell victim to it OR shinin in it..I feel XXL put the wrong person to review an album at times tho..

  • Josh Kriese

    Should have been an XL

  • Jon Carcione

    Complete album bangin beats and lyrics. The more I listen to it the more I like it. Out of the 19 tracks, I liked 12 of them. Should have gotten an XL!

  • Pray4Me421

    This album deserve an XL at its finest. Lyrics-L Ace speaks alot of realness I wish he could go back to using punches.