L.A.’s Aceyalone is widely recognized as being one the strongest voices in underground hip hop, all the way back to his days with the groundbreaking Freestyle Fellowship and his 1995 classic solo plate, “All Balls Don’t Bounce,” featuring the singles, The Greatest Show on Earth and Mic Check. The record launched him into immediate icon status in the minds of those-who-know. But personally, my favorite work is what he did with Abstract Rude, when the two of them teamed up to record Who Framed the A-Team?, one of the greatest anti-hip-pop records of the past ten years. The record dropped in 2000, when gangsta rap was getting huge, but it wasn’t gangsta. It was hardcore, it was gritty, and it was tough, but where Wu Tang Clan made almost comical essays on violence, or told street tales, The A-Team talked mostly about the culture of hip-hop. They were keeping it real before people talked about “keepin’ it real.”

Aceyalone can turn a phrase in a unique way–he’s got such a strong voice that if you’ve never heard him before, it might make you think of Pharcyde, or NaS. A-Team is more about words than beats (although the beats are strong, too).

In the middle of ’06, somehow, they snuck in Who Reframed the A-Team? and I missed it. Found it on emusic, though. And I thought they were all done making records.

Anyway, I know most of my readers aren’t into rap too much, but y’all should give this a try. It’s unique, strong stuff. You just might like it.

Is Dis My Life?-The A-Team with Joe Budden. Budden is another one who you should check out. He’s got 9 zillion mixtapes, and all of them are better than his one album. We keep getting promised a second record, but it never comes.

Deep and Wide-The A-Team. Personally, my favorite A-Team cut.

Pressure-The A-Team

Treble and Bass-The A-Team

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