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Ace Hood, Blood, Sweat & Tears

For Ace Hood, being backed by DJ Khaled has its share of perks, namely a one-man promo army. But it also poses its share of problems for the Miami rhyme spitter; namely, it places him in the shadows of his multi-hyphenate boss. With his third album, Blood, Sweat & Tears, however, the underdog lyricist finally finds the spotlight.

The brooding “Hustle Hard,” powered by Lex Luger’s production, showcases Ace Hood’s muscling flow over the industrial-strength backdrop, where he spits with aplomb.

“Nigga ain’t no doubt about it/riding ‘round with that rocket,” he raps forcefully on “Hustle Hard.” “Load it up and I cock it/send ‘bout a couple off in your noggin’.”

But, throughout the LP, Ace equally impresses on material where he reveals a vulnerability.

The biting “Letter To My Ex’s” finds him sneering about a lost one over Cardiak’s flirty keyboard-infused track. “Lord Knows,” with its sparse production and “Spoke To My Momma” stand out for Ace’s restrained delivery. Too often he revisits the stop-and-go pattern of “Hustle Hard,” his breakout hit, but when he abandons it as the case on “Spoke To My Momma,” the urgency in his voice more than broadcasts his emotions. It’s during those moments when the former XXL freshman proves there’s more underneath this Hood than hot air. —Jayson Rodriguez

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