Masta Ace Shows Brooklyn How It Was & It’s A Beautiful Story (Video)
Nearly 30 years removed from his solo debut, Take A Look Around, Masta Ace is still spitting observant bars, taking stock of his surroundings and detailing what he sees for his listeners. On late 2018’s A Breukelen Story (named one of Ambrosia For Heads‘ best of the year), a collaborative album from the Brooklyn MC and (Brooklyn by way of Toronto, Ontario) producer Marco Polo, the longtime collaborators deliver an homage to the streets, the people, and the ongoing changes within the New York City borough.
On the Fat Beats Records LP, scenes of life are illustrated not only through Ace’s experience but also the journey of Marco, who made BK his home nearly 20 years ago. The album’s title traces things back to the Dutch town after which the New Netherlands colony was named, so there’s an inherent sense of sentimentality and diaspora — but A Breukelen Story is a contemporary look at the borough that’s evolving at a rapid rate. It’s both an examination of how Brooklyn has shaped them, and the way the same place Ace once co-christened “Crooklyn” is steadily reshaping.
Longtime co-creators, Masta Ace and Marco Polo enlisted Elzhi, Lil Fame, Pharoahe Monch, Smif-n-Wessun, Styles P and others to help tell their Story. But on “Get Shot,” the two are simply a duet. The song showcases Masta Ace’s straightforward wit and lyrical jabs, as he demonstrates the classic Hip-Hop blueprint: I’m doper than you.
“You’s a real sad man, play the mandolin / You sittin’ home like, ‘should, could’ with your wood panelin’ / Face it, you stuck in the basement and panickin’ / Stagnant and can’t move, a damn mannequin / Everything you do in your life is self-damagin’ / Drug scramblin’, raw sex and gun brandishin’ / Can’t stop, you got shot, the doc bandagin’ / Meanwhile, I’m in Spain up in a Spanish inn.”
The accompanying music video is where Brooklyn delivers its leading role. Directed by Ezru Gonzalez, it’s billed as being “inspired by the streets of Brownsville” and takes viewers on a leisurely stroll through the historic neighborhood. Brownsville, home to Mike Tyson, Sean Price, M.O.P. and many others, is the neighborhood that raised Masta Ace. In the video, sneakers hang from electrical lines, scaffolding is peppered with the occasional graffiti, and the shops encircling public housing are backdrops of daily life. Both Masta Ace and Marco Polo star in the video, which offers a glimpse into a vestige of Brooklyn that is fighting the grips of “new New York” gentrification.
In an interview with AFH TV, Masta Ace explains how Brooklyn has changed, saying the neighborhood in which Marco Polo lives (Downtown Brooklyn/Clinton Hill) used to be “straight hood.” Now, he says white families frequent Fort Greene Park in a change symptomatic of the demographic trends altering the borough’s DNA. Though the duo explain they didn’t necessarily set out to make an album that reminds folks of a bygone Brooklyn, “Get Out” no doubt preserves the sound and sights of Brownsville for future Hip-Hop Heads.
Previously, Masta Ace and Marco Polo released “Brooklyn” as A Breukelen Story‘s lead single, featuring Bucktown duo Smif-n-Wessun. They followed with “Kings” and the Pharoahe Monch-assisted “Fight Song,” both of which also premiered at AFH.
Press photo provided by Fat Beats Records.
#BonusBeat: Three upcoming European festival dates from Masta Ace & Marco Polo: