Aceyalone Lives For His Art As Proven By Last Night's Brooklyn Concert By The LA Hip-Hop Legend

Posted by Billyjam, July 28, 2013 02:45pm | Post a Comment
"I feel like I'm at the Good Life," the clearly happy Aceyalone complimented his audience during last night's fun concert at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory. Despite the fact that most in attendance at the Saturday night Williamsburg show would have been only toddlers or pre-teens when the legendary West Coast emcee and Project Blowed co-founder was putting it down at the short-lived but influential Good Life Cafe in South Central Los Angeles didn't seem to matter one bit. They all obviously understood the reference made by this revered hip-hop lyrical force known for his pivotal role in the early LA underground hip-hop scene, his membership of the hip-hop groups Freestyle Fellowship, Haiku D'Etat and The A-Team, and the prolific artist's impressive solo catalog of recordings including the brand new album Leanin' On Slick (Decon Records on both CD and LP) that he and album producer BIONIK, who backed him on stage last night, included some songs from in their all-too-short but energetic set that featured mostly abbreviated versions of songs.

In addition to the title track of Leanin' On Slick Aceyalone and BIONIK, who drummed live as well as dropping beats and sound effects and providing backing vocals, ran through some other select album tracks from this soulful funky new album including "Workin' Man's Blues" (that features Cee Lo Green) plus a variety of other songs. These included treating the New York audience to a couple of brand new, unreleased, never performed live tracks that were atypical of Ace's work to date: more on the contemporary bass-heavy tip with more simplified lyrics, and complete with trap-style drum patterns and booty-shaking rhythms. Of Leanin' On Slick (the great cover of which above was photographed on a recent trip to Cuba where the video for the title track - below - was filmed) the artist said, "It is a part of a series that I am continuing throughout my career." Aceyalone told me this when I met him the day before the concert at WFMU radio in New Jersey where we chatted both on the air and off about such things as his beginnings in hip-hop in LA at a time when gangsta rap was the predominant flavor of the genre. "Heavy gang culture in the 80's" influenced a lot of the LA rap around the time," he told me of the early days of Freestyle Fellowship and Project Blowed. "But we always tried to keep it artistic with the jazz and reggae influence and of course the funk. That was a part of our focus; to not be so cliche as to be what everyone expects of West Coast - at the time"

As for The Good Life Cafe Aceyalone enthused, "Oh man the intensity there just climaxed from the moment it started all the way up to the top when it kinda exploded." Of the legendary open mic sessions he recalled how, "We started there the first week and it just kinda went on and on and on. It got better and better. The competition got better. And before you knew it record execs started coming down there. Hundreds of people were packing the place. And it only last for three and a half, maybe four years. And if you really want to see a history of it, there's a movie out called This Is The Life" he said recommending the Ava DuVernay directed 2008 documentary.

As far as the current era digital age and the ease with which anyone (and everyone) nowadays can get their music out there Aceyalnoe observed that, "It's kind of like the Wild West so you still need some quality control. You have to weed through a lot of stuff," he said qualifying that, "It works to the advantage of serious artists." On the related topic of how so many well meaning but short sighted fans post his music online for free downloading/streaming for which he or his label see no profit, he said that he wished people wouldn't give away his art for free but feels like he cannot do much about it. And on the topic of his current label, the New York City based Decon who also issued the recent Freestyle Fellowship comeback album The Promise, he said he is quite happy with them. "The way I like to put my music out there these days they are a good fit - not too much of a big label to get caught up in," he noted, adding that they are supportive and not interfering.  "Pretty much I can do what I want as an artist [with Decon]"

Aceyalone "Leanin' On Slick" (2013)

While last night's Knitting Factory show was with the backing of just BIONIK he said, whenever possible, he loves to have a full soul/funk band backing him in concerts. But budgets prevail he said so this is not always possible. It was for a recent show he and BIONIK did in South Minneapolis at The Icehouse with the band The Lakers last month in support of the new album (see fan video clip below of them doing the Leanin' On Slick title track). Another similarly funky and soulful group he likes to perform are from back in SoCal - Long Beach's funk/jazz quartet The Slippers. He told me how fellow Freestyle Fellowship member Self Jupiter had teamed up with this LBC jazz-funk ensemble to record the still to be released album entitled Burgandy Fatts - Myriad Of Thoughts. Aceyalone has recorded another full album with The Slippers which, will be released sometime in the future (no fixed date or label yet he said), that will be titled  Get Your Ass To Mars. He also shared that he plans on doing a box set compiling many of his myriad of releases and recordings.

Both in person and in concert you can tell that Aceyalone is someone who loves and lives for his art. This was confirmed when I asked him about he feels during those financially challenging times as a a highly revered but commercially underrated hip-hop artist. "I love what I do so the hard times aren't as hard," he said. "From over those two decades ago I just dedicated my life to music and my art. So nothing is ever too hard when your life is in there. We do this and we do it everyday and it has its rewards and they definitely outweigh the bad times!" 

Aceyalone & BIONIK with The Lakers "Leanin' On Slick" (live at the Icehouse, Minneapolis June 2013)

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Knitting Factory Brooklyn (1), The Lakers Band (1), The Slippers Band (1), La Underground Hip-hop (1), Hip-hop (217), Leanin' On Slick (1), Decon Records (2), Decon (1), The Good Life (7), Aceyalone (2), Project Blowed (3), Bionik (1)