Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named NaS once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon.
When it comes to creative ventures whether it be in music, art, literature or what have you there will always be an individual or group who will go unnoticed. That’s just the nature of things. Sometimes it’s premeditated – a way for artists to maintain anonymity – while other times it’s popular culture revealing one of it’s many blind spots. For our first foray into our ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman’ column we take a closer look at the snoozed on Masta Ace.
With so much hullabaloo surrounding Wu-Tang right now – from their not so secret, secret album and dysfunctional relationships to the affiliate who’s attempted suicide had men cringing worldwide – there are few who have been as sure-handed as Ace.
He’s like Juan Manuel Marquez, a lion in the ring who’s been consistently overlooked in favor of other more flashy names. Like Marquez, Ace is a practitioner, an artisan who operates like a surgeon – quiet but relentless.
One project of his that doesn’t get as much love as it deserves (and one of the most overlooked in the past five years) is Ma Doom: Son of Yvonne, a concept album dedicated to Ace’s mother. It’s a project that chronicles his upbringing from his days as a rambunctious youth (“1970 Something“) and the girls he crushed on along the way (“Crush Hour“) to the everlasting impact his mother had on his life (“Son of Yvonne“): [LISTEN]
To some those may seem like broad topics, but the way Ace illustrates them is a testament to his skills as a writer. There’s no distinction between who he is as a person and who he is as a creative, and those meticulously detailed, honest portraits are what separate him from others.
For those who look at rap as a literary form, Ace is a giant. He can take any situation and craft a story out of it - some of them funny and lighthearted others scathing and full of tragedy. It’s you Masta Ace we give a nod to and salute as the first recipient of the Sandman award.