Bright lights, big city

AceyaloneMagnificent CityDeconThree out of five stars

Good idea: inviting one of hip-hop’s finest producers to produce your album.

Bad idea: letting that producer upstage you on your own album.

Take Aceyalone’s (ay-see-ya-lone) latest album, Magnificent City, as a case-in-point-its contributing producer, underground’s RJD2, does such a fine job, he makes Aceyalone look like the contributor.

That’s not to say that Aceyalone doesn’t drop some smooth verses. From the sci-fi flavored lyrics of “Caged Bird” to the storytelling “Junior,” Ace validates his legendary status in underground hip-hop.

And he even tries his hand at cowboy poetry: “Solomon Jones,” a banger resembling an urbanized “Cremation of Sam McGee,” works, surprisingly.

Ace also drops some of the worst verses of his career, as in “Fire,” when he runs in lyrical circles: “I don’t know why and I don’t know how / But I do know, I do low and you so foul / Let’s do the thing most people do with it / Who could it be but the one who done did it?”

Because of weak bars like that, the album’s poppin’ beats steal the attention. “Fire” is a roller-disco dance track that showcases RJD2’s masterful use of samples; “Cornbread, Eddy and Me” is a steam-pumpin’, fist-clenchin’ banger that could stand on its own instrumental feet.

Though Ace barely keeps up with RJD2, Magnificent City is an impressive collaboration by legendary talents; at worst, the album still outshines much other hip-hop.