Book of Human Language



by fsharptrit0ne USER (10 Reviews)
May 25th, 2011 | 12 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Intelligent, educating and fearless. Aceyalone has undoubtedly created a novel, in the form of music.

If you look up the meaning of poetry on, the first definition you get is “The art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful imaginative or elevated thoughts. Poetry can of course, be applied to other things rather than just a piece of paper, one of these things being music. Many people consider certain hip-hop to be poetry, and in many regards, it definitely can be. One album in hip-hop that is so genuinely poetic, that it is in fact poetry embodied is “A Book of Human Language”. With this album, the man behind the curtain, Aceyalone, dismisses all rules and regulations that many MC’s follow. On this album you won’t find any features from other rappers, any song structure that follows a formula, or even any catchy choruses that jump out at you. This album is not only a book of “language” as the title speaks, but also a book on how to break all the rules, and how to break them in the best way possible.

“Forward”, the first track, which also happens to be an instrumental, starts off the album in a foreboding manner. The dark and eerie beat introduces you to the raw and somewhat unpolished feel that the production exemplifies. Mumbles, the man who produced the whole album singlehandedly, does a brilliant job at allowing Aceyalone’s complex and hugely intelligent lyrics stand out over the dredging, almost desperate sounding beats. If the first two tracks aren’t enough to let you know that you’re in for something different, Aceyalone steps out of his rapping character and lets you know himself. “Contents” is an introduction of sorts, introducing the one and only Aceyalone himself, Mumbles, and the various “chapters” that are on the album. These chapters allow Ace to express an idea, or even a lesson, whether it’s about the downfall of humanity on “The Hurt” or comparing a person’s own personal war, with that of a major one in “The March”. The rhymes throughout nearly 69 minute album, can most of the time be so unorthodox, so complicated, and so quick in delivery that it is nearly impossible to take in everything all at once, even after a handful of listens. While it may be easy to call this a weakness, it is in fact the furthest thing from it. The massive and over the top feeling that the album gives off is what makes it so unique. The challenges that you must overcome to fully appreciate the album can be an incredibly rewarding experience, inside of hip-hop and out of it.

Ace is at the top of his game throughout the entire runtime, never slipping or showing any signs of weakness. His performance is absolutely stunning. His ideas come across through his rhymes in a fluid and well thought out strategy. Rapping over the use of odd time signatures, whether it’s 5/4, 6/8 or ¾ is certainly something that rappers won’t dare to dry, but can’t even do without failing miserably. On “The Hold” we see Ace rapping over the 5/4 time signature, with such precision and grace, that it makes other rappers deemed “intelligent” seem second to none. The brief use of filler on the album is used wisely, whether it’s the lounge like vibe received from “The Catch” or the silly haunting one from “The Jabberwocky”. It’s hard to really even call these brief passages filler, as they work so well in the context of the album. The massive 7 minute and 49 second “Human Language”, the last proper track on the album, is a grand triumph. As the already impressive track hits the halfway mark, the song comes to an utter silence for a brief moment. Aceyalone comes back after this silence, except this time without a beat, in which seems to be in front of a crowd. The last 3 minutes consist of him preaching to this crowd, speaking at first, asking non rhetorical questions, before going into another one of his abrasive raps. His acapella performance is nothing short of captivating. Letting listeners know that his beliefs and ideas are just as strong and evoking when not up against a beat.

“The Book of Human Language” shows what an MC can do by not following the said guidelines. It shows that taking risks and trying new things can ultimately be an outstanding achievement. With each listen, something new is heard. The more you listen and the more you spend time with the album, the more you start to understand the genius lyrics, and the more you embrace the cold, organic production. More than 10 years ago this album came out, but it still sounds as fresh as ever, due to its deep poetic and novelistic makeup. Ace says himself “Get up on the facts and relax” and he couldn’t be any truer. Relax, throw on this album and don’t be afraid to learn, because you won’t be able to put this book down.

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user ratings (54)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 25th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Incredible album, probably my favorite hip-hop album. Such a shame it's so under appreciated. Sputnik should be all up on this.

May 26th 2011


6/8 and 3/4 not rare time signatures. Lack of musical knowledge. Neg.

Unless you meant odd as in even and odd, but 6 still isn't odd.

May 26th 2011


For hip hop they are, most if not every beat is 4/4

nice review, I'll try to check this out

May 26th 2011


Great review! Seems like an interesting album, I'll have to check it out at some point.

May 26th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

For hip-hop yes its odd and that' what I meant in the review. Really? A neg for that though?

Crimson Death
May 26th 2011


Anything that isn't 4/4 is pretty odd in hip hop...Good review, pos.

May 26th 2011


Your review has piqued my interest. I will definitely check this out at some point.

As an aside: That is the single least-warranted "neg" I've ever seen on this site.

November 22nd 2012



March 18th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

This is one of the best hip-hop albums I've ever heard.

March 18th 2013



April 20th 2015


Great review. This is a phenomenally creative album.

I noticed something really interesting about The Hold recently. While the beat is in 5/4, Ace's verses remain in 4/4. This makes it so that his rapping gets off from the beat, but then meets back up with it after 5 of his rap verses. He always uses these "meet-up points" as times to transition to different parts of the song, so he certainly seems aware of how these time signatures interact.

Him doing this fits perfectly with the theme of the song. He talks about how you shouldn't hold on, but instead should let it go, and let it come back to you naturally. In a sense, this is exactly what he does on this track. He "let's go" of the 5/4 beat, rapping in 4/4 instead, but then allows the beat to meet back up with his rapping, naturally, after 5 rap verses.

At first I was disappointed that he doesn't actually rap in 5/4, but now I realize the genius of the way this song is designed. I wouldn't be surprised if there are other instances in which aspects of a song's design relates to the theme of the song on this album!

February 17th 2016


Album Rating: 4.5

this'll prolly be a 5 in a few more listens. incredible stuff. it's always moving so smoothly while still being so full of content. don't see it getting old any time soon

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