In the next installment of “Verse Behavior” rap legend Masta Ace takes us inside of his autobiographical track “Young Black Intelligent” from his new album The Falling Season. The narrative introduces us to a 14-year-old Ace in the 1980s as he adjusts to life at predominantly white Sheepshead Bay High School, which is a long way from his neighborhood of Brownsville. The genial honor student likes to play football and talk to girls but things are never quite that simple when you’re young gifted and Black.
The video premiered on Vibe.com:
“When I did the MF Doom record Son Of Yvonne it was dedicated to my mother and I went back in history to when I was around 12 years old and I first got introduced to hip-hop,” says Ace. “When it came out I realized there was another part that needed to be told and the high school part of it was a bigger story. There was a lot of racial tension in the early 80s. We would see kids getting chased to the bus stop, kids getting beat up all the time. That period of my life there was so much going on. In my neighborhood the tension was about getting robbed. It was a wild time in Brooklyn.”
The track and the album are produced entirely by Los Angeles producer Kic Beats. Check out the video and Q&A to Masta Ace’s “Verse Behavior” below.
Young Black Intelligent,
This is not a first but it feels like a curse and it weighs like an elephant.
Heavy on my mind cause I feel so irrelevant.
Heavy on my hearts like I’m smart for the hell of it.
Heavy on my soul as I stroll through the Ville again.
Stranded on this island, feel like Im Gilligan.
Friends got jail, then they got bail,
Stress that Im under I just wonder will they kill again.
“Young Black Intelligent” was the first song that I recorded for this album. The song in a nutshell speaks about my life at the age of around 14 years old growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn in the projects, and being a kid that was a pretty smart kid, got good grades. But all of my friends that I hung with, they wasn’t really into school like that. They didn’t really get good grades like that. So I was looked at a little different because of the school thing. So I wanted to express on a record that feeling of being in this environment but being different because I was a good student and how to survive that and get through that. That’s why I wrote the song.
At 14 I had several friends who were already on the path to go to jail. They were already committing crimes in the neighborhood. It was right at the beginning of the chain snatching era. Snatching jewelry. Snatching pocket books was popular. And a bunch of kids I used to play football with in the neighborhood decided that was gonna be the new thing. They would go on Pitkin ave and snatch jewelry. I decided I wasn’t down with that.
Some of the guys from my hood are still around. Many are on drugs real bad to the point that they look like really old men even though they’re my age or younger. Right now guys are just getting home from 20, 25, or 30 year bids. When I went away to college a bunch of them went away to jail. They’re just now coming home. I’ve been seeing over the past 5 or 10 years guys coming home from straight murder raps. Long bids. It’s amazing because these are the same kinds I played two-hand touch with…but at some point we [went our separate ways].
Please understand that I’m living in the concrete,
Jungle as I stumble will it crumble under my feet.
In the building lobby, see my man Bobby,
Puffing on a joint that’s the point when our eyes meet.
Asks whats the weight on the books in. My knapsack.
He’s so amused I’m confused why he asked that.
Then I understand the motive and the plan.
He’s tryna be the man as I stand getting laughed at.
When I got to high school they were putting me in these advanced placement classes and there was nobody that looked like me in my classes. I was the only black kid in every honors and AP class for the most part. I remember being in AP English with all these white kids and when I left the class I didn’t hang with none of them.
Bobby isn’t a real person, the name, but the character of Bobby was a real person. There would always be guys in the lobby smoking weed, drinking beer and making comments when I’m on the way to school.