Friday, December 11, 2009

Master Ace Meets The Simpsons

Have you ever wanted to hear someone rap over The Simpsons' theme song? Me neither! But Masta Ace did it anyway. And he rapped over an 8-bit video game digitized version, which makes it even ... better?

Game Over was a conceptual compilation album that came out in 2000 on Landspeed and Yosumi Records (the label that put out Ace's Disposable Arts album as well). The gimmick was to have a bunch of known rappers rap over video game beats, which was probably ultra-keen neat-o for fan boys, but made the rest of the rap world squint and say, "these beats are pretty weak."

But Master Ace was a sport about it anyway and contributed two tracks, both of which are featured on this 12" single. The lead track is called "Spread It Out," and like I said, it's over The Simpsons' theme. Now if you're familiar with tune (and, really, who doesn't watch The Simpsons?), you know it's got a very quick, upbeat "bum-bum-bum-bum" rhythm. This compels Ace to do a very... almost Southern rap, broken up short syllable "rat-a-tat-tat" style of delivery, and while I guess this shows that he's got range, it's not the most appealing sound for long-term Ace fans. Lyrically, he's not saying much, and the whole thing feels like an attempt to crossover that didn't crossover. The novelty value is upped a bit towards the end when they start throwing in a mess of random Simpsons' vocal samples, "D'oh!" "Aye carumba!" etc. That comes in Clean, Dirty and Instrumental versions (in case you ever want to rap over The Simpsons' theme!).

Next up is a really randomly assorted posse cut called "Game Over" featuring J-Black (some random unknown guy who's only done Game Over appearances as far as I know), Jugga the Bully (that guy who tried to make a name for himself by dissing Clue, then disappeared when nobody cared), Steele (yeah, that Steele of Smif-N-Wessun), Godfather Don (just listed as Godfather here) and P Dap (some guy who did a lot of guest spots in the early 2000s). It's ok. I don't know what game soundtrack they're rhyming over... it doesn't sound great, but it's definitely more appropriate for a hip-hop track than The Simpsons. Unsurprisingly, Don and Steele have the best verses here, but even they aren't bringing their A game. This song only comes in a Clean version, which is distracting because they curse constantly.

Then, on the B-side, we get the highlight of this 12", "Hellbound (H&H Remix)" by Eminem, J-Black and Masta Ace. This is before Eminem turned into a grist mill of sappy pop rap, and every verse was a gem. And sure enough, Eminem is sick here, and hearing him paired with Masta Ace (who also kills it this time around) is a treat. This video game is also the most effective video game loop yet (enhanced with a clearly non-video game sourced beat and bassline - I guess that's the benefit of the Remix). J-Black contributes nothing of value, but he's at least tolerable enough not to ruin the proceedings. It comes in Clean, Dirty and Instrumental versions.

Game Over was successful enough that Game Over II came out the following year, this time on Yosumi and Interscope Records. They didn't release a single this time, but German labels ZYX and Fon-kay Records threw this little something together. The A-side is Ace's "Spread It Out" again, from the first Game Over. It only features the one (dirty) version and despite the fact that it's a 12", it plays at 45rpm. I'd really take this for a boot, but ZYX is a legit label that picks up a lot of US stuff for overseas, so I guess it's legit... maybe?

The B-side is Masta Ace's song for Game Over II, "Rap Y2K1" (as in the year, 2001, when this was made). The beat's kinda mediocre (another video game laid over drums and a bassline), and the hook is boring, but lyrically Ace has stepped his game up since "Spread It Out." He's written a fun concept song this time out. He lays out the concept simply enough, "I had a dream that I was inside of my PlayStation," but instead of just being a crazy story of hanging out with Sonic the Hedgehog or something, he twists it into a series of clever metaphors for the hip-hop music industry. Granted, metaphors for the hip-hop music industry are a dime a pound, but this one's consistently smart and amusing:

"I started off, underground, in a dark room
With a freestyle, a sawed-off pump and a harpoon
That transformed to a pen in case of a verse war.
I opened the first door that led to the first floor.
I got attacked right away when I walked in

By a four-foot manager with a contract and a pen.
I put up my force shield to block any attempt
At this shrimp drainin' my life 20 percent.
The floor opened up and I almost fell inside,
But I used my mic wire, and I swung to the other side.
And just when I thought I avoided the booby trap,
I got slapped by a female MC with a doobie wrap.
And this chick was tryin' to be he(a)rd like she raised cattle;
But I remembered somethin' I seen on the Blaze Battle:
'Whoever sold you them shoes, they fooled you.'
I killed her with a verse about her fucked up weave and her fake FUBU.
A record exec then appeared in a black limo
And started to attack with a bag full of wack demos.
And I will admit, it was hard as hell to kill,
'Till I stabbed him with an invoice and a studio bill."

So yeah. If you ask me, "Spread It Out" is a little puke-worthy, but labels must've thought the Simpsons beat was a golden ticket, since they included it on both 12"s. "Game Over" was also unexceptional (especially considering it was Clean only!), but the other two songs are definitely worth your time. Hell, "Hellbound" is awesome. And if you're a fan of the game they sampled, you'll probably get extra geeked out by it.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (some grammar errors that I couldn't live with...haha)

    You know I love me some Ace....uhhh, no homo. I've always been on the fence about "Spread It Out". It's different than anything he has done but I HATE all the 8-bit video game beats out these days and didn't care for it much then neither. I did jam the song some though, just because it was so different than anything he has done.

    I have never cared for the Em and Ace song. It's boring to me. I think that J-Black guy did ruin it for me.

  3. Yeah, a new hook and ditching J-Black's verse would've gone a looong way.

  4. Word, "Spread it Out" sucks. If you want to hear the same lyrics done right, listen to "Got to Be Me".

    And the comment about the Eminem song reminds me of the frustratingly blurry line between Ace and Em's influence on one another.

    Eminem named Masta Ace as a major influence, and it's easy to hear that influence on the Masta Ace Inc. material. But I've heard it said many times that Em flat out ripped off Ace's style, and I'm like, well.....

    After Em blew up it seems like Ace was actually cribbing the style that he helped influence (if that makes sense). When I listen to Disposable Arts, I think, "This sounds waaayyyy more like Eminem than any of Ace's earlier work."

    Any thoughts?

    1. Yeah, I know what you mean. I think Ace was definitely making an effort to keep up with the times, lyrically. Not only did his albums change style, but he definitely got into the 90s punchline, crazy wordplay style (a la early Eminem). I don't know how much he was looking at Em, though, as opposed to all of those cats in general. Like, not many 80s Juice Crew-era cats were doing things like freestyling on The Wake Up Show, but Ace was; and I think all those Wake Up Show guys (the guests, not the hosts) were a big influence.

      The fact that Ace could master that style, and in general can keep learning and remaining "relevant" as Hip-Hop goes from one phase to the next is, for me, one of the most impressive things about him.