Saturday, August 25, 2007

Song of the Day - Aceyalone & RJD2: "A Beautiful Mine"

There are two essential components to a great Hip Hop song. The first is a beat that hooks in the listener, but doesn't draw attention away from the MC (frequently a problem with almost any MC not named CL Smooth that collaborates with Pete Rock). The second is an MC that has the skills to flow with the natural progression of the beat. Now this may sound simple, but so frequently Hip Hop artists fail to strike this perfect balance and the result is usually forgettable (unless your name is Timbaland, in which case you are exempt from this rule because all you care about is moving asses on the dance floor).

This would adequately describe why I've never been more than a casual fan of Aceyalone. A gifted wordsmith for sure, Aceyalone usually has trouble collaborating with a producer who can compliment (or should I say, keep up with?) his rapid lyrical delivery. On his 2006 album Magnificent City the stars finally aligned, thanks to the brilliant production work of superstar beatmaster RJD2.

While the song may sound middling at first, the swirling strings, frenetic bongos and Aceyalone's stream-of-consciousness lyrical flow convey the theme of what he is saying; that the mind is capable of extraordinary things, many of which are born out of chaos. Many of Aceyalone's earlier work was hampered by producers trying to bring structure to his unorthodox style, but RJD2 knew better than that. Instead he aimed to make a beat that was in itself a musical version of Acey's lyrical madness.

Speaking of madness, the instrumental version of "A Beautiful Mine" serves as the musical backdrop to the excellent new series about 1960's Madison Avenue ad executives called Mad Men (Thursdays, 10PM on AMC). Itself a show that deals with human creativity borne out of chaos, you can see why pairing it with this song makes perfect sense.

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