Ace Hood — Trials & Tribulations Album Review by Jay Fingers

Ace Hood — Trials & Tribulations Album ReviewArtist: Ace Hood
Title: Trials & Tribulations
Genre(s): Hip-hop
Label: We the Best / Cash Money / Republic
Hood: Port St. Lucie, FL
Social: Website | Twitter

A few years ago, radio personality Miss Info randomly tweeted, Ace Hood. I reject you.” It seemed that she was not alone in feeling this way. Though the South Florida rapper had a sizable hit with 2011’s “Hustle Hard,” and had also appeared on tracks with some of the region’s most popular MCs, it seemed that Hood would never be able to gain traction on his own.

Then, earlier this year, he exploded with “Bugatti,” a raucous party jam that is the very definition of “turn up.” The Future and Rick Ross-assisted, Mike Will-produced track was a massive success and set expectations pretty high for Hood’s fourth album (and first under Cash Money Records), Trials & Tribulations.

“Bugatti” is by far the album’s best song, with its quiet proclamation of nihilism (“I stay smokin’ on good Jamaican/I fuck bitches from different races/You get money, they started hatin’ ”) that erupts into a volcanic hook (“I woke up in a new Bugatti!”). There’s also a remix, which is a bit long and unnecessary, but gives the opportunity for some of the game’s hottest MCs to jump on one of the year’s hottest tracks as well as for Hood show off his friends list.

Things get equally crunk on “Before the Rollie,” which finds Hood and guest Meek Mill trading verses about the hustle and life before the riches and stardom come along. Producer Sonny Digital’s machine gun snares, digital blips, and haymaker drums perfectly compliment Hood’s gruff, intense delivery. Hood aims for that same intensity on second single “We Outchea,” but the song fails to deliver because of Lil Wayne’s lackluster performance.

Trials & Tribulations is by no means perfect—just peep the distorted Autotune of the Chris Brown collabo “Rider,” or better yet, don’t—but it is a surprisingly cohesive, soulful work. True to its title, the album contains mostly introspective songs that find Hood waxing reflective on life before his success.

“The Come Up” is a poignant, piano driven autobiography that makes great use of Anthony Hamilton’s potent yet plaintive vocals. The gospel-influenced “Mama” is the requisite aural epistle to the woman who raised Hood, but soars above the norm thanks to soul production courtesy of DJ Khaled and Cardiak, moving lyrics, and a tour-de-force performance from Betty Wright (“Ain’t no love like Mama’s love”) that will make you pick up the phone and call home once the song’s over. And the frustration on the title track is so palpable (“Who that nigga think he is?/That lil’ Black boy from the South/They was laughing at me then/Ain’t no laughing at me now”) you’ll find yourself swinging on imaginary assailants like Cuba Gooding Jr. in Boyz N The Hood.

Production is handled by an assortment of knob-turners, which also include Boi-1da, Young Chop, and StreetRunner, yet the album has a surprising consistency. Hood’s lyrics aren’t the sharpest, but he’s far from simple, and the force with which he barks into the mic gives his street raps and tales of redemption a gravitas that, quite frankly, wasn’t to be expected on this project. With a good number of potential hits, as well as songs that will surely resonate with listeners, Trials & Tribulations has the potential to take Ace out of the hood and into the big leagues.

Grade: B

Best Tracks

“Bugatti” (featuring Future and Rick Ross)

“Mama” (featuring Betty Wright)

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXiWmjLHAsE

“Before the Rollie” (featuring Meek Mill)

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODtE9_iYujA

“The Come Up” (featuring Anthony Hamilton)

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGZEsbSkw_o

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