As a founding member of LA’s short-lived Freestyle Fellowship, one of hip-hop’s most original and intelligent groups, Aceyalone helped lay the groundwork for today’s anything-goes underground scene. His free-form rap slops over tight beat schemes like runny oatmeal, much in the style of Kool Keith; but unlike Kool Keith’s sci-fi fantasies, Aceyalone’s thoughts are rooted in the here and now. On his third solo album, Accepted Eclectic (Ground Control/Project Blowed), he shifts gears into straight-up battle rhyming–though with his wiggy imagination, the put-downs are rarely straight up. On “Alive” he disses a fellow MC for using “punch lines like you’re shooting rubber bullets at the sun,” while “Microphones” makes a worn-out mike a metaphor for played-out MCs. He does make a few detours–“Five Feet” is a humorous plea for personal space, and “Hardship” embraces the way everyday difficulties breed humility–but by and large the album is Aceyalone’s take on classic hip-hop. On The Underground Railroad (Ground Control), the New York trio Masterminds look back to late-80s hip-hop for inspiration, recalling the early days of the Native Tongues posse. Their stuff manages to avoid cliched gangsta tropes, but they’re not exactly out to change the world; you get a pretty good idea of what this group is all about when Oracle raps, “We’re moving crowds like water in front of Moses / You’re wet before you notice” (“Liberty”). They eschew the stark austerity that dominates much of today’s underground without approaching the corny nostalgia of, say, Jurassic 5. Also appearing are veteran Boston MC Ed O.G. and LA’s Rasco. Friday, March 16, 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Angela Boatwright.