New York emcee, songwriter, producer & record executive Masta Ace back with Toronto beatsmith Marco Polo for his 9th full-length LP albeit their 2nd together. Breaking out in the late 80s as a member of the Juice Crew collective, his solo debut Take a Look Around became a Cold Chillin’ Records gem, the next couple SlaughtaHouse & Sittin’ on Chromewere accompanied by Masta Ace Incorporated, the Interscope Records-backed Disposable Arts is a classic concept album about enrolling in after realizing how bad the situation in Brooklyn is, his M3 Records debut A Long Hot Summer is another conceptual piece except this one’s about venturing through his hometown before going out on tour with Fats as his unofficial manager, MA_Doom: Son of Yvonne was basically him freestyling over the Special Herbs beats paying tribute to his mom & The Falling Season focused more on his high school years. However with the 5 year anniversary of A Breukelen Story produced by Marco Polo passing by this fall serving as a near-perfect love letter to the planet, Ace is taking it to Richmond Hill for the sequel.

After the “December 26” skit, the first song “Brooklyn Heights” is a boom bap opener with Ace telling y’all where he’s broadcasting from whereas “Certified” featuring Coast Contra takes a funkier approach instrumentally talking about their respective certification in the rap game. After the “Cartunes” skit, “Hero” featuring Inspectah Deck brings back the kicks & snares in full effect likening themselves to vigilantes just before “Life Music” featuring Speech & Stricklin’ finds the trio in their grown man bag over a dusty yet atmospheric beat.

“Below the Clouds” featuring Blu ruggedly advises to get your head out the clouds & after the “St. Roberts” skit, “Heat of the Moment” is an acoustic/boom bap hybrid continuing to provide wisdom such as making your decisions clear since they don’t want to understand what they fear. “Jordan Theory” mixes synths with kicks & snares explaining that you have to give up your soul to cross this bridge, but then “Money Problems” featuring Che Noir gives off an orchestral boom bap flare tackling financial issues.

After the “Scarborough” skit, “P.P.E.” takes it back to the basement talking about junkies & pushers being everywhere while “Outside In” featuring C-Red & E Smitty has to be one of the weaker tracks on here respectfully as we’re being treated to a piano-driven love ballad. “Connections” shows passionate hunger by keeping his status high until he’s satisfied over a sample-heavy boom bap beat while the jazzy “Plant Based” talks about how he’s been eating better these days. “All I Want” featuring Wordsworth following the “December 25” skit ends the LP by wanting freedom for Christmas.

Much like how A Breukelen Story was mainly inspired by Ace’s upbringings, this time we’re being treated to a conceptual album based on Marco Polo’s childhood growing up in the titular neighborhood in Ontario & one that reaches the bar that was set by it’s predecessor over 5 years ago. They take the issues of the day head-on with clarity so Ace can use his decades-worth of rapping experience to slice through the producer’s warm soul samples & crisp percussion.

Score: 9/10