Review: Ace Henderson x Suburbia

It has been over a month since Ace Henderson dropped his latest EP Suburbia (November 19th, 2013). To some a review is long over due, but to folks like myself it takes multiple intense listens to give a finalizing score of a project especially a musical project.

Here’s some background of what Ace has to say about his new release:

According to online entertainment site MassAppeal.com,

[Mass Appeal: Your new mixtape, SUBURBIA, dropped fairly recently. How has it been received so far?

Ace Henderson: The response has been overwhelmingly awesome; it’s really gratifying to see that the people love the music I’ve made. I got very personal on some songs and I’m grateful to have people respect that aspect of my music and me, and hopefully they can relate. My music is exactly how I see the world, so when people tell me that they like it, that makes me feel very accomplished.

MA: What was the inspiration behind the title?

AH: The popular perception of the suburbs is that they are utopian communities. Therefore, suburbs plus utopia equals suburbia.

MA: On certain tracks, you channel André 3000 with your flow, your prose-like syntax, and use of rich language. Is he an influence?

AH: I love 3-Stacks. The Love Below is still in my rotation so to be mentioned with him is cool. However, I actually got most of my prose-like writing inspiration from Frank Ocean and Lupe Fiasco. My dad always told me to tell stories. There’s a story within everything, nothing exists without a purpose, and I like to try to depict as many things as possible so that the listener can connect my actions with my words: synchronicity.

MA: Your latest tape is considered “NEWSOUTH”, while #ALLENEP falls into the “HobbyRap” category. Could you explain the difference?

AH: [Laughs] Hobby rap is my favorite type of rap; it’s fun rap. It’s rapping without the boundaries of a single genre. #ALLENEP was the beginning of me exploring my sonic pallet and seeing what my voice can convey.

“#NEWSOUTH” is the culmination of all of the musical influences in my life combined into one. Being from the south we are privy to that deep-thump, trunk-rattle music. We all start driving around the time we’re 16 to 18-years-old down here in North Carolina, and I just remember bumping whatever had the deepest thump in my car during my senior year of high school. The chop and screwed, 808′s, and hi-hats are Dirty South but that’s died away. “#NEWSOUTH” is that same Dirty South type feel except we’ve cleaned it up, added some new clothes, shoes, and voilà. ]

Ace also sat down with DCTV and here’s what he had to say:

[Umm…Suburbia is an EP and it pretty much depicts the day in the life of a Suburbian. A suburbian is someone that has grown up in the area, that has the influences of inner city types of things but still has the whole other side of the world in suburbia. With [that] project I tried to capture some of the things that were actually very influential in my life. I’ve lost one of my best friends, I’ve had to deal with finding that middle ground-i’m cool with the hood guys but then I like to go to the white parties and shit like that-so it’s kind of finding that middle ground. Suburbia is that melting pot where all social cultural backgrounds come together. All of the music sounds familiar but then if you listen to it there’s even more of a meaning behind it…

It’s me just sitting back after years of paying attention to everything that has been going on around me and I was like well this is what it sounds like. This is what it feels like to me. Suburbia is just my feelings about everything that’s around me and how I’ve become the person that I am.]
Now, after some background knowledge feel free to indulge BELOW:

Listen: soundcloud.com/acehenderson
I feel it is necessary to give you guys some background information on Suburbia because I, myself, was confused on the meaning of the title prior to obtaining background information and initially did not know that the project was only an EP. If you’re critical of the EP or have questions SCROLL UP for more information. Those two interviews answered most of the lingering questions I had.

Ace Henderson Suburbia REVIEW

Production

I personally feel like the production is the best element of the EP. With that said, I am not completely disregarding Ace’s rhymes but I genuinely connect with the beats on this project. They tell a story that the words do not have to tell. All of the beats fit the scheme and vibe of the EP. We are served some jiggy, almost astronomical, head-bobbing feels with Dew, 540, Flex, M.I.A., Kilo and Neighborhood Watch but we are also taken into the other side of the sound spectrum with BLOW. Kim Spruill, Martin Otoya and Iguanaman’s track attracted a diverse ear which is always beneficial to today’s very universal sound.

Lyrics

Suburbia consists of 10 tracks-3 of which include conversation to help tell the suburban tale. Commentary is a great way to bring a project together, especially one that has efforts of relaying a message or telling a story. However, I personally feel like the EP is overloaded with dialogue. As a rising artist I want to hear the range of Ace’s writing and test his story-telling abilities as a lyricist. While more short, skit, commentary like Girl Talk, 1st Day and Crystal Clear complete the outdoor, neighborhood-story element, I feel like it takes away from the lyrics. I know the project is just an EP, but I do not feel like it is complete.

MassAppeal.com labeled Ace’s previous work Allen EP “Hobby Rap” (as stated in the interview script above) and I personally feel as though Suburbia follows up with that same label. After many listens, I got “fun rap” and no boundaries from the project. There are alot of catchy phrases and fun rhymes that make the songs appealing. Ace talks suburban neighborhood life, rap life, the scene, blazing up, hangin’ with his crew and the very relatable scenario of losing friends. I have fun while listening and am engaged into what Ace is saying because I get a glimpse into his southern yet urban influenced lifestyle that personally connects with me.

Flow

Ace has had a very distinct flow in his past projects so it came to no surprise when he carried through the songs on Suburbia in a confident, melodic manner. He played around with his words on 540, he carried a melody on M.I.A. and Neighborhood Watch and basically made up for any absence of substance with his delivery. Ace’s flow on this project is very commendable.

My Jams

540 ft. inKagnito prod. by inKagnito and M.I.A. prod. by Era Hardaway are my go-to songs on this project.

Rate

3/5- Suburbia is an EP jammed with dope production and lives up to its title as listeners are taken on a ride through the suburbs. I definitely feel like I know more about Ace as a person after listening to this project. However, lyrically I was left wanting more. That could be due to the typical effects of an usually short (5-7 track) EP but Ace’s project consists of 10 songs which is pretty steep for an extended play project. I challenge Ace’s upcoming work to venture into heavy lyricism and maybe even take a more serious tone. I’m looking forward to what’s next from Ace Henderson.

Follow Ace Henderson on Twitter> @acehenny

Music> SoundCloud

http://acehenderson.com/

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