Many artists go through stages of doubting their greatness and ability to carry forth their art in an impactful way. New York City’s STACE is not that artist. He believes in himself in such a fashion, he’s created a screenplay scored by his own lyrics, his own beats and a borrowed concept. The Talented Mr. Ridgeway is an incredibly polished project of epic musical proportions. At times, STACE has so much to say, he lets the instruments in his beats and the diversity in his voice carry on and on. Not to say it’s not an enjoyable piece, the album contains some of the most melodic beats over descriptive rhymes you’ll hear this year.
The issue becomes how great can one be at such an early stage in his career? It’s a good problem to have, if you’re STACE who has been a musician almost since birth. The album opens with “The Introduction,” an interlude with a woman’s voice in a faux British accent who describes the MC as a creative genius right out of the gate. Again, STACE shines musically when he lets the music speak for him and with “My Name is STACE,” he spares no pomp or circumstance in telling us who he is and why we should listen to him. He drops lines questioning “who got vision like me?” with ease.
It’s convincing, impressive and, at over 14 tracks including skits and interludes, there’s no room not to believe that we’re listening to the second coming of hip-hop since Rakim. “Get High” is the resident smoke song and is one of the best performances on the album. Here, STACE may as well be at a podium as he accepts no words from naysayers and flips metaphors about “throwing salt in the game” like a true wordsmith. The bass line is excellent and surely a feat to spit lyrics about how his semen “gives new faces.”
It’s crass in ways that are surprising but will keep you on your toes as a listener. “Hold Up I’m Ready” shows off the beat diversity as the album ambles on for a few more tracks. Here’s the thing, it’s not that the music is excellent, because there are some really incredible parts to the album (check for “Movie Poster” and “Star” in particular). The Talented Mr. Ridgeway is a bit too long in the tooth, though. By song nine, we’ve gotten the point but, like many good writers know, sometimes it can be too easy to go on being verbose instead of laconic.
The final curtain call could have been more creative in terms of content and for the next go around, STACE should lose the British accent antics but The Talented Mr. Ridgeway is an incredibly solid project. A bit too heavy on the “I’m the best” rhetoric but hey, it’s not bragging if it’s true, right?