For any fan of these emcees, a Masta Ace and Edo G. collaboration seemed strong in theory. The veterans have often collaborated for great pieces so this A&E album seemed like it would be an extension of the quality material. Trying to prove they’ve still got what it takes to be in this unfriendly game, Ace and Edo teamed up for A&E. With the bar raised so high, this effort disappoints, but facing other releases in the genre, this album still has many points to applaud.

Ace and Edo are consistent with a pen. With Ace, it’s no surprise to hear conceptual tracks done well like “Little Young” and “A’s and E’s (This is What We Do)” featuring Marsha Ambrosious.  Edo and Ace also collaborate with other seasoned spitters like KRS-One on “Pass the Mic” and Posdnuos on “Good Music.” Large Professor also makes his presence on the microphone known on “Fans.” Beats match this with a soulful backdrop on “Reminds Me,” where DJ Supreme One brings a crate to work with. Frank Dukes brings forth the chops also and his production allows Ace and Edo to rhyme without boundaries on “Ei8ht is Enuff.” Rain’s piano keys open the door for personal narratives about careers in the game worth listening to and learning from on “Here I Go.” Ace shines on here with lines like, “I know a lot of niggas selling real estate/ But if I did, then I really wouldn’t feel as great.” When the two are on with chemistry, good results follow.

Sadly, it isn’t always the case as the album takes some disappointing turns. For instance, it starts off with a hokey beat on “Hands High,” an instrumental that lends itself to a dismal chorus. This is a trend that is repeated in the end of the album with “Dancing like a White Girl.” This track shows Edo and Ace in an unflattering light with a song that feels out of place here. With Chester French on board, it’s even more of a let down as one gets the sense this collaboration could have been executed in a better way. In the end, the track becomes a horrid ending to the project. While Ace’s interludes are usually not detrimental to the overall project, this album has a few too many skits that aren’t always needed. Overall, it takes away from the music that’s created and adds little substance.

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Any time expectations are high, it’s difficult to live up to. Still, Masta Ace and Edo G. create an album that showcases many positives and a few negatives. When sticking to their lyrical guns, using instrumentals to expand on life with multi syllabic rhyme patterns, there is little to critique. When they get out of their comfort zone, something that should be celebrated becomes an experiment that probably should have been left on the cutting room floor. Though not a classic or anywhere near their past few solo releases, this album will live well in the ears of many.