Brooklyn native Masta Ace grabbed the spotlight in 1987 on Marley Marlís classic "The Symphony" alongside eventual Cold Chilliní labelmates Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, and Craig G. With some production help from the Biz, Ace delivered an unheralded gem, Take a Look Around (Cold Chilliní), in 1990. But the industry got the best of yet another young lyricist, and after a couple of disappointing efforts in the early í90s, Ace vanished.
Disposable Arts, then, is a comeback, and an impressive one at that. The streetwise storytelling and clever, concise wordplay of "Block Episode" rival anything Nas and G. Rap have dropped in 2002. And the commanding presence Ace had on Take a Look Around is back in force. The disc includes some interesting match-ups, particularly on "P.T.A.," which features cameos by J-Ro of Tha Liks and West Coast pioneer King Tee. "Donít Understand" includes a nicely freestyled chorus by Greg Nice that makes for a perfect counterpoint to Aceís monotone flow. The beats are rock-steady throughout, with styled drum tracks, and well-placed piano and violin loops on "Enuff," "Unfriendly Game," and "Acknowledge," where Ace aims some scathing lip service at the underground duo the High and Mighty. White rapper MC Paul Barman shows up in a couple of hilarious between-track skits. But the big payoff arrives when Ace lets down his guard on the albumís final two songs and puts his heart on his sleeve for "Dear Diary" and "No Regrets."