Monday, November 21, 2011

Dead Presidents To Represent Ace

In 1995, The Southern Conference put out their only album, Who Am I?, and this is the first (of two) singles off of that album. But Southern Conference aren't just some random nobody group that came and went in a quick minute. In fact, it was just the latest step in a hip-hop career that started back in 1989, and continued on his last album (to date) in 2005. The Southern Conference is none other than Dr. Ace, of Young and Restless fame - who also put out records under the names of Da Real One and Mr. Charlie - backed by a couple other guys collectively known as The S.C. Mafia.

Yeah, you remember Young and Restless, surely - "B stands for Broncos, Benz, BMW, bass, bangles, and a pair of bars!" They actually had a long and varied career after they broke up (I say "broke up" because they stopped putting out records as the group, but they remained friends and continued to work together). And in 1995 they both dropped their first solo projects: Prince of Power dropped "Give Me 50 Feet" under his new monicker, P.O.D., and Ace dropped this record, "Dead Presidents."

And this is a solo record, make no mistake. Despite it being credited to "Southern Conference," Ace is the only one rapping on here (though Alvin Rodgers adds the occasional background vocal and a strange Bugs Bunny impression), the song's sole writer and the song's sole producer. It starts out with a quote from the Christian Slater film Mobsters, "What's the secret of America? MONEY! Everything is money, Charlie." "Charlie" is an extra little in-joke, because, in addition to being the name of the main character in the movie, it's Dr. Ace's real name.

Anyway, it's a nice little record... Young and Restless meets 90's random rap indie vinyl. It's a fresh, but low-key instrumental with a super funky bassline - not a Miami bass ridiculous bassline, but a straight funky one - and a little live guitar by Rich Serrotta. There are some subtle, female background vocals by Grace, who's allowed to flex at the end of the song. And there's a cool little routine where Ace does some back and forth with her, very reminiscent of the records Grand Puba used to do with Mary J. Blige.

While P.O.D. went to the obvious route of making a pure dance track for the clubs, Ace made a slower, reflective hip-hop track. It's got enough live rhythms to still feel lush and upbeat, and there are still hints of the Ace's wit in his writing, but for the most part he plays it straight (though not too deep) with a mature song about the ups and downs of his financial issues. And just for the record, this came out the year before Jay-Z's "Dead Presidents."

This 12" just features the one song, but it is fully loaded, coming in Radio, Ride Out, Club, Instrumental, and Acapella Versions. The Ride Out mix isn't a remix with a new instrumental - it's just a slightly extended mix where the beat rides out. This record can usually be found pretty cheap - even though it's kinda rare - just because most people don't seem to know what the heck it is. But I recommend it - it's not exactly a random rap classic that should be commanding insane prices, but if you appreciate good hip-hop, you'll like this. It's just good.

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