Cash Money Records must be Ace Hood’s good luck charm so to speak. He seems to have retooled, set his priorities straight, and with the release of Trials & Tribulations, his fourth studio album, concretized his unique personality in the rap world. It’s all about family, hard work, and sending a purposeful message to his fans this time around. Star studded with famous feature artists, supported with top notch productions, and fleshed out with clear, confident vocals from Ace himself, Trials & Tribulations inspires, dazzles, and impacts in a profound way.
Where Ace’s previous releases, Gutta, Ruthless, and Blood, Sweat & Tears focus largely on presenting style and creating a thug-life image for the Deerfield Beach, Florida native, Trials & Tribulations keeps the same overtones and adds introspection and a deeper meaning to what came before. He takes inventory of his blessings (“Mama”), gives a run down of struggles from his past (“Trials & Tribulations” and “Before the Rollie”), expresses faith and remorse for his sins (“Pray for Me”), and shows appreciation for what he now has (“My Bible”), all while remaining true to his rugged and raw rap style. From this standpoint Ace Hood solidifies his stance in the politics of his career.
Beats-wise, some of the synths create an intense, looming presence blanketing each song. Occasionally matched with hard hitting base lines and fast, ticking drum rolls, the sounds used here are prominent and powerful. There are some softer moments like the gentle piano and drum taps of “The Come Up” and “Hope,” and “Rider,” with its airy, humming background and muffled drum taps will please Tupac fans as they hear Chris Brown singing, “ambitions of a rider.” The biggest standouts on this album, however, are of the louder, jolting persuasion like the Mike Will Made It produced “Bugatti” and its remix, the posse cut featuring T.I., Wiz Khalifa, French Montana, Birdman, 2 Chainz, Future, DJ Khaled, and Meek Mill.
Guest rappers aside for a moment, Ace Hood’s lyrics are sharply on point in this album. There is also obvious improvement. For example he is able to compete with Weezy’s verse on “We Outchea” rapping, “E’ry day I’m’a go and get it / Pair of J’s in my Florida fitted / Quittin’ out of my vocab and hate is out of my soul and spirit.”
No matter what problems Ace Hood has encountered in his life outside of rap, so far he has had the perfect outlet to get his story out and share it with the world. The Florida wonder who found his origins with DJ Khaled down south is apparently through with his Def Jam years, but it appears as if his Cash Money years are just getting started with much more great music on the way.