Review Summary: Disposable Arts is, to me, an iconic album. Its style is perfectly executed, and the story it tells is one I can listen to over and over.
*Note: This is a very brief overview of Disposable Arts, and is more of an explanation as to why I think it is a classic album. I noticed that the record lacked a review and figured I'd put something out there. This is in no way a comprehensive review.*
An overlooked rap album of the 2000's era, and a perfectly executed concept album. Masta Ace nails the formula, telling an original and relatable story using some fantastic techniques. Skits carry the story and provide breaks from the music, as well as give the listener some funny moments and explicit explanation of the story. Some tracks tell the story straight up, while others address aspects of the life that Masta Ace's character lives, which is a good way to tell a story without *literally* telling a story. This approach really helps you to feel and understand what the character is feeling, and get a picture of what his life and surroundings are like, from the streets of the city to the people on the streets. The production and delivery is varied enough that I enjoy each track for its own reason, but consistent enough to listen to this album through and through. As well, the features are incredibly well used and timed; the styles of the other artists fits their role in the story, and compliments Ace's own style. As well, they provide for some relief from hearing Ace constantly throughout this 22 track affair. And, while not part of the music, the cover compliments the vibe of the project well, and is, in my opinion, iconic.
Masta Ace ends Disposable Arts on some very real tracks, and gives some closure to the story you just experienced. However, while the albums last track would lead the listener to believe that Ace was ending his career right then and there, a la The Black Album (and, similarly to The Black Album, you get the feeling that Ace poured his heart and soul into this final effort), he eventually followed it up with A Long Hot Summer, which is a prequel to Disposable Arts. I believe that Disposable Arts has superior execution to A Long Hot Summer, and should be listened to first for the sake of understanding the story of ALHS.
Disposable Arts is the crowning achievement of Masta Ace's career; while this album isn't for everyone, it combines a lot of what's great from the era before it with some new ideas that have had influence since its release. DA has the fire of The Black Album; the skits of a Wu-Tang record; the storytelling of a Spike Lee film. And above that, it's style of concept album has influenced many narrative driven projects that have come after it.
It's a little long, but I recommend Disposable Arts to any hip hop fan. It has a lot of what one might look for in an album, and is certainly worth a listen.