Title: Trials & Tribulations
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 2011s Hustle Hard, and had also appeared on tracks with some of the regions 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 Hoods fourth album (and first under Cash Money Records), Trials & Tribulations.
Bugatti is by far the albums 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!). Theres also a remix, which is a bit long and unnecessary, but gives the opportunity for some of the games hottest MCs to jump on one of the years 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 Digitals machine gun snares, digital blips, and haymaker drums perfectly compliment Hoods gruff, intense delivery. Hood aims for that same intensity on second single We Outchea, but the song fails to deliver because of Lil Waynes lackluster performance.
Trials & Tribulations is by no means perfectjust peep the distorted Autotune of the Chris Brown collabo Rider, or better yet, dontbut 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 Hamiltons 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 (Aint no love like Mamas love) that will make you pick up the phone and call home once the songs 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/Aint no laughing at me now) youll 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. Hoods lyrics arent the sharpest, but hes 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, wasnt 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.
Bugatti (featuring Future and Rick Ross)
Mama (featuring Betty Wright)
Before the Rollie (featuring Meek Mill)
The Come Up (featuring Anthony Hamilton)