To de-clutter my life, I embarked upon the task of digitizing my old LPs. One of the jewels in my collection was the debut album of one of the first Latin Hip Hop pioneers, Mellow Man Ace, Escape from Havana. Mellow, the brother of Sen Dog, who was 1/3 of the seminal Cypress Hill trio, signed to Capitol Records before his Cypress Hill was signed. So let’s get right into this Mellow Man Ace Album Review.
I originally purchased the 12-inch single, Mentirosa (Liar), which some of you may remember came out in 1989. The song lifted a Santana chorus and told the tale of a young man whose woman was stepping out on him. (I believe Mellow’s sister was the female voice in the song.)
After hearing that record, I was smitten with the possibility of bi-lingual rapping, and I had to hear more from this young Cuban sensation from the West Coast.
|1.||“Hip Hop Creature”||Dust Brothers||4:01|
|3.||“Rhyme Fighter”||Tony G||5:12|
|4.||“If You Were Mine”||Dust Brothers||4:41|
|5.||“River Cubano”||DJ Muggs||4:26|
|6.||“Rap Guanco”||Tony G||4:27|
|7.||“Mas Pingon”||Dust Brothers||5:17|
|8.||“Gettin’ Stupid”||Johnny Rivers||4:53|
|9.||“Talkapella”||Mellow Man Ace Tony G||3:56|
|10.||“B-Boy In Love”||Tony G||4:40|
|11.||“En La Casa”||Def Jef||4:11|
|12.||“Enquenteran Amor”||Dust Brothers||5:09|
Ironically, one might have expected a record like this to come out of Miami, not L.A. Nonetheless. The album used some heavy-hitting producers of the time, specifically the Dust Brothers and Def Jef.
My 7th-grade brain would never be the same after listening to this Mellow Man Ace album. I had the dubbed cassette version of the album, which I think I wore out. Eventually, on a trip to a Miami record shop, while passing through, I purchased the LP years later. With all its early hip-hop cache, the photo on the front was worth a few bucks alone. If you get a chance, click the links below and do a little memory lane stroll.
This was a nice way to open the album by using Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” intro as the main sample. This cut reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla if they were a rap group. Mellow’s flow is nice and sounds confident and natural on this track.
I remember the video for this song, which was quite campy. Mellow Man Ace was a hip-hop-slinging cowboy. How many times must we revisit this trite video theme? Despite the corniness, the production was pretty tight. The underlying groove borrows from fellow L.A. funksters, War, and the funk tune Galaxy fits nicely with Mellow’s cadence.
A not-so-subtle attack on the late Eazy-E makes me wonder what the origin of the beef originally was. (around 2:11)
Set to a slow tempo of 808 beats over lounge-type piano playing, Mellow brings out the romantic side of his B-Boy persona. This was likely inspired by LL Cool J’s. I need love. The lyrics are sappy, and the song is #%#&, but I guess even the coolest cats have to be punks sometimes to get the girlies.
DJ Muggs lends a helping hand on this track in which he appears to be flushing out the sound he would later use to characterize the group Cypress Hills. You even hear a brief snippet of Sen Dog getting busy. This is arguably the best BOOM BAP cut on the album.
To date, this is probably one of the better hip-hop/Latin instrumental mashups. The guaguanco rhythm is really what gives the song its flavor. Mellow Man Ace reps all the Latin countries on this track utilizing equal parts English and Spanish.
Skip this one. It’s not very good. It’s just some filler with Mellow rapping some dirty s**t in Spanish.
A bit more filler but better than the previous track.
So, did you know these tips? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on home recording. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.