Artist: Mellow Man Ace
Album: From The Darkness Into The Light
Label: X Ray
Cuban born Mellow Man Ace (brother of Cypress Hill's Sen Dog) burst onto the hip hop scene in 1989 with the album "Escape From Havana" which featured the bi-lingual hit "Mentirosa" and the classic "Hip Hop Creature". Mellow Man Ace soon became a respected figure in hip hop along with fellow hispanic rappers Kid Frost who came into the scene with 'Hispanic Causin Panic' and MC A.L.T. who all joined forces as 'Latin Alliance' and released a self titled album in '91 with the remake of War's classic hit 'Low Rider' on it. Mellow Man Ace had a falling out with Frost which led to the diss by Cypress on 'Insane In The Brain' ("fat boy on a diet, don't try it, bust your arse like a looter in a riot") and also dissed him by name in the same track. Mellow later released "The Brother With Two Tongues" in 1992, another solid effort from the East Los Angeles rapper.
"From The Darkness Into The Light" was released in the year 2000 on X-Ray Records and was Mellow Man Ace's third album.When I bought this I didn't know what to expect (the first thing I noticed was how much Mellow Man Ace looked like Run on the left of the cover). Mellow Man Ace's debut album was half incredible and half average, his second album was 100% hip hop and was definitely an improvement on his first, which I still loved quite a bit. From the moment you turn "From The Darkness Into The Light" on until the end of the album you are greeted with nothing but pure hard-hitting hip hop rapped in both Spanish and in English. The album is split into 2 sections - the "Dark Side" and the "Light Side".
Track one is the "Cleopatra's Dungeon Intro" where Ace gives a few shout outs to people involved in making the album as well as hyping up the tracks that are to follow. Next up comes "Is It You", a track aimed at haters and doubters. The concept for this track is fairly simple, he raps a line about haters followed by the name of the track, not an incredible track but it definitely has good replay value. The third track on the album it is titled "Guillotine Tactics", it features B-Real of Cypress Hill and Profound. Mellow Man Ace spits some out-there lyrics on this track, Profound raps about the harsh ways of the world and B-Real drops some gangsta rhymes in his typical fashion. I love how the sounds of a guillotine dropping and a knife/sword swinging have been worked into the beat, sick production by the Collective Funkateerz!
"Miracles" is another quality track, the production was again handled by the Collective Funkateerz and they did a great job creating a beat with holy atmosphere for Mellow Man Ace to drop powerful rhymes over. Ace's microphone presence is top quality on this track, he really commands the listeners full attention. This is followed by the more up-beat "Promotor Super Estrella" which unfortunately I can't understand due to it being totally in Spanish. The track sounds mad and the beat is top quality, which is no surprise considering it was produced by the legendary DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill/ 7A3). The final track on the "Dark Side" is "Future Shock", as the name suggests this has a futuristic feel to it, both lyrically and also in production.
The "Light Side" starts off with "Heaven", a thought-provoking track about many of lifes problems. The hook for this track is sampled and it is pretty sombre, the production fits the track perfectly. The Muggs produced "Ten La Fe" follows this up, this is another Spanish language track and it has fitting traditional latin folk singing for its hook. Next up is "Bring It Back", a track about hustling to come up, amongst other things. Ace drops some knowledge on this track about the rap game and life in general, this is certainly one of my favourite tracks off of the album.
The next two tracks were both produced by Tony G and they both feature Mellow Man Ace's brother, Sen Dog, and they are both sick. First off is "Feel The Steel" - Sen Dog sounds aggressive as fuck in this track, which is never a bad thing. Mellow Man Ace's free-flowing style and Sen Dog's aggressive, no-holds-barred style compliment each other well. "Sly, Slick & Wicked" again shows that the Reyes brothers make a killer combination, the track is full of battle rhymes, pretty much the message is that if you mess with the Reyes brothers then you're gonna get fucked up (I can't picture anyone who would have the balls/nerve to mess with Sen Dog anyway...). The album is closed out by the "Cleopatra's Dungeon Outro" where Mellow Man Ace just goes over what you've just listened to and gives out a few more shout-outs.
In conclusion, if you are a fan of Cypress Hill or even west coast hip hop in general then this album is well worth a listen (if you haven't heard it already). This album showcases Mellow Man Ace progressing even further as a rapper and is my personal favourite album of his (although I have yet to hear "Vengo A Cobrar" which dropped in '04).
Mellow Man Ace ft Sen Dog - Sly, Slick & Wicked
Mellow Man Ace - Bring It Back
Rating: 4 Daytons out of 5
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