Ace Hood Interview
Expecting to grind hard for several years before a major label deal came his way, 20 year-old MC Ace Hood has defied the recording industry’s odds. Due to the recent success of his mentor, DJ Khaled, the Broward County, Florida native finds himself with a recording contract as the flagship artist on Khaled’s new label, We The Best Music.
Ace’s presence is already being felt on various radio stations across the country, many of whom have picked up his current single, “Cash Flow.” Gearing up for the release of his debut album, “Gutta,” this August, Ace has jumped on Khaled’s new single, the appropriately-titled “I’m Out Here Grindin,” and has chosen the Goldrush-produced title-track as his forthcoming second single.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” Ace steps inside the booth to talk about the overwhelming nature of becoming an overnight sensation, the current hip-hop “movement” in Florida, and what valuable commodities he would wager on the success of his music career.
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Ace Hood Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is the flagship artist on DJ Khaled’s new We The Best music group. A man who is never short on that Cash Flow-
Ace Hood: [freestyling] Believe that it’s Ace Hood in the building, Mr. Cash Flow, me I’m talkin’ big bank rolls, Mr. I-need-it-on-time, Mr. straight flag when I drag in the place – yo, Z, what up? Let ‘em know what’s poppin’! I’m about that cash flow, homie!
DJ Booth: That’s what I’m talkin’ about – kickin’ off the interview with a little freestyle, showin’ us your creative side. Not many people I interview do that. How you doin’ today?
Ace Hood: I’m doin’ good, I’m blessed. Got a hit record on the radio right now, I’m at the crib loungin’, lookin at that fifty-inch, know what I mean?
DJ Booth: As the first artist on Khaled’s new label imprint, Ace, there’s clearly a lot of faith being placed in your talents. Which word do you think best describes how you’re feelin’ – calm, excited, or nervous? Which one best describes how you’re feelin’, right now?
Ace Hood: Calm and excited, both. I’m blessed, man, to be in the situation I’m in, for me to be backed by the biggest cats in the game, as far as the movement, just bein’ a part of a major label like We The Best music, and a distribution company like Def Jam.
DJ Booth: Definitely. When artists get signed to a major label deal, it seems as though they have to wait on the sidelines for a while until they get a chance to shine. It seems in your case, this has all happened pretty quickly, hasn’t it?
Ace Hood: Yeah, it has, it has.
DJ Booth: Are you overwhelmed by it all?
Ace Hood: Oh, of course – it’s like it happened overnight. It happened so fast, and every day it’s like something different, every day it’s like a bigger step than what it was the day before. I just take one day at a time, but it’s definitely overwhelming, just to be one day sittin’ at home, and the next day to be sittin’ with seventy-thousand-dollar jewels on, or something like that – it’s definitely a big thing for me.
DJ Booth: When you see everything around you, and what this immediate success has brought you, in the back of your mind, did you know you would get to this point so quickly, or did you think you would have to grind for another five, ten years?
Ace Hood: Actually, I thought I would have to be grindin’ for another five or ten years, to be honest. There was a [story I was told] like, “Yo, you have to be grindin’ for a certain amount of time.” That is what my mind was based on, right: I have to grind for fifteen years. ‘Cause a lot of people have had a lot of years on today’s grind, so I said, “Okay, I have to wait this long.” I always knew in my head, I claimed it, like, “Yo, I will one day make it – I know I’m gonna make it!” Just waitin’ for a label to figure that out, just to come on and sign me, ‘cause I was always worth it.
DJ Booth: If we’re gonna talk about grinding, we’ve got to mention that you’re on Khaled’s new single, I’m Out Here Grindin’. Ace, everyone has their own personal definition of the word, so explain to me how your define “grindin’.”
Ace Hood: I define, “grindin’,” as just nonstop work, man! Nonstop work, nonstop progress. Can’t sleep during that grind – I mean, you get a little bit of it, but if you’re progressin’ at every hour, every second, you grindin’. You gettin’ it, you gettin’ it in. No matter what you may be doin’, if you write a song, you just wrote fifteen songs, you write more. Anything that describes as far as progress is grindin’.
DJ Booth: Your mainstream introduction into this game has come with the current hit single, Cash Flow, featuring, of course, T-Pain and Rick Ross, and production muscle from The Runners. Ace, oftentimes new artists with heavy assistance on their debut fail to maintain a buzz without that assistance. So, where do you go from here as Ace the solo artist, nobody else alongside him?
Ace Hood: I’ll still be creating hit records. I’ll create more hit records. I got Ace Won’t Fold in the streets right now. It’s pretty much my own project. Basically, my first album just represents the movement. I got a lot of big names on the album, but I’m hittin’ ‘em with the next stage stuff. I got the second single comin’ out. It’s a lot of things I’m in the process of doin’ solo. Khaled did his thing in the beginning, as far as introducing me, but I’m brandin’ myself now, me as in my own artist. I travel myself, I do this, I do that. I’m brandin’ me.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about Khaled for a second. By trade, he’s known as a DJ, a promoter, and a record producer – let’s go behind the scenes: how does he assist you in the creative process?
Ace Hood: Oh, man, Khaled is like my fuel. When me and Khaled are together, it’s like askin’ for death or something like that. Everybody love when me Khaled are together. [My] performance is already something great, but when Khaled’s alongside of me, that’s something everybody wants to see. You already know Khaled’s full of energy, he’s hyper at all times, he’s full of positive energy.
DJ Booth: Ace, let the cat out of the bag: does he make you drink like ten pounds of coffee a day, maybe some Mountain Dew? How is that energy maintained?
Ace Hood: Nah, nah… basically, his whole motto is he just wanna win. He’s tryin’ to be the best, he’s tryin’ to be better than the best, know what I’m sayin’? Hes’ tryin’ to be the next, like, Russell Simmons, or the next corporate top guy.
DJ Booth: Obviously success means a lot to you as well. I was reading your MySpace page, and you have a quote that says, “I have a chance at changing the rap game.” So, Ace, how are you going to go about doing that?
Ace Hood: I’m gonna just keep givin’ them hit records, keep feedin’ the streets. I’m gonna do it to stay high, know what I”m sayin’? I’m a young cat in the game. That’s one thing that’s different about me: I’m backed by a lot of big dudes in the game, but I’m only twenty, I just turned twenty. I’m gonna give ‘em pain throughout the whole process. And bein’ that I’m young, I’m so comfortable to grow. People are talkin’ like this and that, and, “He’s one of the top-notch artists,” “He’s gonna be big.” Just give me time – I’m growin’!
DJ Booth: This obviously all leads up to your debut album, we talked about it off the top, Gutta, in stores this August. What is going to separate this project from the rest of the crowd?
Ace Hood: Oh, man. This project right here is representin’ the movement. I am a member of the movement, I am the youngest of the movement, bein’ along with Rick Ross, [Lil’] Wayne, Plies, Trick Daddy. And this first album, it’s a representation of me, of who I am, called Gutta. It’s a big album, I got a lot of big names on it. I mean, this is gonna set me aside – it’s a lot of big records. First-time artists don’t even get things that I’m gettin’; that’s one thing that’s special about what I’m doin’. As you see in the video, Cash Flow, it’s a lot of big features I’ve got in there a lot of first-time artists wouldn’t even get.
DJ Booth: I saw the video. I was kinda disappointed I didn’t get an invitation to join you on set; that looked like a great time!
Ace Hood: Nah, Z, we got you – we could’ve flew you in on a G4, got you down here. Don’t worry; we got you.
DJ Booth: Okay. Well, the next video, I’d better be on that plane.
Ace Hood: Nah, we got you!
DJ Booth: [laughter] Ace, with the recent success of fellow Sunshine State artists, such as, Rick Ross, Plies, and T-Pain of course, are you bold enough to assess right now that Florida is the hottest region in the rap game right now?
Ace Hood: I mean, every region’s doin’ their thing. I ain’t knockin’ on any region, but we doin’ our thing on the Florida end, a lot of people tend to think that our end is the better market for music, right now, at this time and point in the game. But we doin’ us, you know what I’m sayin’? We gonna keep producing those hit records. We gonna continue banign’ ‘em out. We gonna continue showin’ y’all the movement – Rick Ross, T-Pain, Flo Rida, Ace Hood, DJ Khaled, The Runners – we gonna keep talented and that’s it.
DJ Booth: With a stage name of “Ace,” you no doubt have to be a betting man, am I correct?
Ace Hood: Mm… I tell ‘em, “I bet Ace won’t fold.” I bet on myself; If I’m gonna bet, I only bet on me.
DJ Booth: Okay, so if I asked you to place your most valuable asset on the line, based on your level of confidence in this album and your career, what would be at stake?
Ace Hood: Let me see, let me see, let me see… if it’s against me, I’ll put anything on the line, when it’s me.
DJ Booth: Anything in the world?
Ace Hood: When it’s me, of course! Anything!
DJ Booth: Okay, I like that confidence. Ace, give everyone a website or a Myspace page, so they can find out more about what you got goin’ on, your current single Cash Flow, and, of course, your debut album hitting stores this August.
Ace Hood: Yeah, they can go check me out on myspace.com/acehood.
DJ Booth: That’s what it is. Ace, I appreciate your time greatly. I thank you so much for joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth, my man.
Ace Hood: Nah, Z; I appreciate you, homie.