Ace Hood Interview
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Whether in the political, street, or musical arena, individuals in power possess certain key traits: they refuse to let anyone or anything dissuade them from pursuing their ambitions, they surround themselves with trusted friends and advisers, but never let their enemies out of sight, they keep a cool head at all times—to put it simply, they share a Ruthless mindset. South Florida up-and-comer Ace Hood may be young, but he’s already shown all the earmarks of a born leader; with his relentless drive and willingness to put in extra hours to stay ahead of the pack, how could he not be destined for greatness?
Though debut album Gutta wasn’t as great a success as he had hoped, that setback didn’t faze him in the slightest—knowing that “where the will is great, the difficulties cannot be great,” (to quote Niccolò Machiavelli) he got right back on his grind. Less than a year later, Ace is preparing for the release of a sophomore LP jam-packed with hard-won motivational insights. Featuring Booth-acclaimed singles “Overtime” and “Champion,” as well as recently-featured street cuts “Loco Wit the Cake” and “Bout Me,” Ruthless is set to drop July 30th via We the Best/Def Jam.
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” Ace Hood steps into the Booth to discuss the motivation behind his motivational music, the movies that have helped to inspire his grind, and the producers he considers the absolute best in the industry.
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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 a Ruthless “Champion” who’s willing to work “Overtime” to go “Loco Wit the Cake.” Please welcome, for the second time, my man Ace Hood—how you doin’?
Ace Hood: You already know, man: I’m goin’ hard. Overtime grind, Ruthless state of mind. June 30th my album is in stores officially, my second album. Gutta was my introduction, now I’m back for the people.
DJ Booth: Ace, over the last 53 weeks, you’ve released five singles and a debut album. So, considering you had just dropped “Cashflow” at the time of our first interview, do you feel that you’ve accomplished a lot, or are you disappointed you haven’t accomplished more?
Ace Hood: I actually accomplished more, man. For me to just drop an album in November and to be back again in the middle of ‘09, droppin’ my sophomore album, it’s big for me, so I’m giving thanks. I’m just goin’ hard. It’s a key thing, so we’re just tryin’ to stay in the [public eye] and to keep makin’ this good music that people love to hear.
DJ Booth: Exactly: keep your name up in lights. You told me that your approach to the game is to just take it one day at a time in order not to get overwhelmed with all you have goin’ on. Has this approach worked well for you, as you enter this next phase of your recording career?
Ace Hood: Yeah, I still follow that model: just go hard every day, and take it one step at a time. Through my life, [there have been] a lot of devils and a lot of situations, so I’m just goin’ hard, maintaining, regardless of what people got to say about Ace Hood. And this second album is just showin’ [my] growth, from lyricism to my swag. June 30th I’m back again, and whether they want me to win [or not], we’re gonna be millionaires for life and we’re gonna get it in and keep goin’ hard.
DJ Booth: Ace, there were very high expectations for your debut album, Gutta, but, as we both know, it didn’t fare as well as you would’ve liked it to. So, what did you learn the first time around, and how do you plan to apply this knowledge on your sophomore album?
Ace Hood: Just continue goin’ hard, man. Gutta was the introduction to me, so I wasn’t too upset or mad about it or anything like that—I felt like it did what it was supposed to do. Just people acceptin’ me for me, people lovin’ my music was big for me. I just wanna come back the second time around [and] keep makin’ this music, keep doin’ what I’ve been doin’, but just do more. We just keep building, and I’m gonna keep getting people to buy into who I am; I want people to know who I am as a person. It’s what I wanted with that Ruthless state of mind, man: just to show people who I am as a person and why I do what I do, and why I go as hard as I do go.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Let’s talk about that state of mind. According to the dusty dictionary on my bookshelf, the word “ruthless” means “feeling or showing no mercy.” So, how did you come to title this sophomore album “Ruthless?”
Ace Hood: That’s basically my meaning, but in a motivational aspect. You know, it’s a lot of people that’s tried to stop my grind, there’s been a lot of hate, but even more love. There’s a lot of people that try to come between my clique and try to stop what we’re doin’, but we got no mercy for ‘em, and whether they want us to win or not, we’re gonna get in, man. Regardless of what they say about me, and regardless of what they think, it’s irrelevant to what’s goin’ on. We’re gonna keep on doin’ what we’re doin’, and we’re gonna get it by all means. That’s just what “ruthless” means to me. Everybody’s got their own definition, but I’m ruthless with this music. I’m ruthless in the Booth, you feel me?
DJ Booth: I couldn’t agree with you more—you’re in the Booth with me right now, and you are Ruthless. You mentioned “motivational.” With singles like “Overtime” and “Champion,” it’s apparent that is the angle that you’re taking on the new project. What is the motivation behind the motivational tactic?
Ace Hood: Just ‘cause I wanted people to feel me as a person. I do this music for the people, man, so at the end of the day I feel like, [given] our state of mind and the state our economy is in, I felt like we needed motivation for the type of situation we’re in nowadays. The budgets are runnin’ low, the streets ain’t really got money no more, things are just dryin’ up; I just felt like people needed some motivation, so I took ‘em “Overtime.” I just wanted to let people know that, in any aspect in which you’re getting’ money, you’ve gotta go overtime in order to provide for your loved ones or those who are around you. So that was my state of mind. And I wanted “Champion” to accompany that whole growth situation, ‘cause I feel like, if you go overtime, you will become a champion.
DJ Booth: Ace, the concept of “Overtime” is interesting when you put it in the perspective of the recording industry. Do you feel like there is such a thing as overtime when it comes to being an artist and recording on a daily basis?
Ace Hood: Of course, man, of course! In order to perfect your craft, you’ve gotta go hard, you’ve gotta go overtime. And me, I just turned 21, I’m a young dude, and there ain’t too many people who are doin’ it like I’m doin’ it. There ain’t no others in my lane—I am the future of this music, you feel me? Regardless of what people say, that’s what they gotta bang in their heads: Ace Hood is the future. You ain’t got nobody else in my lane. You’ve got your Jeezys and your Waynes and stuff like that, those are people I grew up listening to. You’ve gotta think of the people that’s growin’ up listening to Ace Hood. Even though I’m out there as an artist, I continue droppin’ mixtapes, I continue doin’ this and continue showin’ DJs love personally. That’s why I continue doin’ a lot of things other artists don’t do. At the end of the day, man, I’m tryin’ to build myself bigger than just Ace Hood, I’m tryin’ to build myself as a bigger brand—open up clothing lines, colognes, walk in New York City and see my poster, know what I mean? We’ve got goals we’re trying to reach, and “Overtime” is the only way to do it, and “Champion” is the only thing we’re tryin’ to be.
DJ Booth: Ace, we took a lot of questions from our readers, and I narrowed a gigantic list down to four. First one comes from Jack of Vancouver, Canada. Jack wrote, “Ace, with your sophomore album set to drop less than one year after your debut, should we expect a third album by 2010?”
Ace Hood: You definitely should, man. After this album drops, I’m gonna continue workin’. Ain’t nothing changed, man—we’ve got a lot of big records on this album. As soon as this album’s done [and] we wrap it up, I’m back in the booth like I never left. I’m gonna continue workin’, and you can definitely stay tuned for a third album and a fourth album and a fifth album.
DJ Booth: So there is no quit whatsoever in Ace Hood, that’s the message we’ve got?
Ace Hood: No, ain’t no quit, man. Not in my state of mind.
DJ Booth: Second question comes from Shaughnessy of Pensacola, Florida, and the question is, “What non-musical hobby do you enjoy the most?”
Ace Hood: Non-musical hobby? I watch a lot of movies, man. I like to expand myself as far as watching movies.
DJ Booth: What’s your favorite movie?
Ace Hood: I’ve gotta say, my favorite movie, one of ‘em is [Notorious]. I love Scarface as well. I’ve got a lot of mob movies.
DJ Booth: Kind of resembling the grind of your own life?
Ace Hood: Yeah, yeah, yeah—they’re ruthless! That Scarface movie is just ruthless! His state of mind was like, “Yo, we’re gonna get it—we’re gonna get this money, we’re gonna get this, get that.” Just like American Gangster; Denzel Washington was like, “Yo, I want my 20%. You ain’t got it, we’re gonna take it!”
DJ Booth: Next question comes from Kayo of Akron, Ohio, and he wrote, “Name one artist, Ace, who you listen to religiously, that most people would be surprised to hear that you enjoy.”
Ace Hood: Let me see, let me see…
DJ Booth: You’re thinking of a good one, huh?
Ace Hood: Yeah… I don’t know. I mean, I could go old-school; I listen to a lot of old-school music, like Teddy Pendergrass, the Temptations, people like that. I’m an old-school dude, and I’m vibin’ with stuff like that to clear my mind. I like listening to that old-school music.
DJ Booth: Anything outside of the hip-hop/R&B landscape? So, something maybe in a rock or country music format?
Ace Hood: I had this one rock band I used to listen to, but I forgot the name of them…
DJ Booth: You didn’t like ‘em enough?
Ace Hood: It was a dope record they had, though. I knew their name, but I forgot it.
DJ Booth: Well, next time you’re home look through your CD collection and maybe you’ll be able to find it.
Ace Hood: No doubt.
DJ Booth: Last question comes (via Twitter) from West Coast hip-hop artist, Nipsey Hussle, and he wrote, “Ace, to this point most of your success has been with The Runners as your production muscle. Are they your favorite producers in the game right now?”
Ace Hood: Oh, definitely. Not only my favorite producers, but those are actually brothers, they’re part of our We The Best family. To me, they’re the biggest guys out, and the music they produce and the records they put out are phenomenal records. I like workin’ with the best, at the end of the day. The Incredibles, they’re another [group] that’s a part of our team, [along with] DJ Nasty. We’ve got a lot of people that support, but The Runners are definitely one of my favorites.
DJ Booth: Ace, I’m excited about everything that you’ve got goin’ on, and I can tell you’re very excited as well. Give everybody a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more, of course, about your exciting sophomore album, Ruthless, dropping June 30th.
Ace Hood: They can check me out on Twitter, @acehood954. Hit me up on myspace.com/acehood.
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Ace, thank you so much for takin’ the time to join me inside the DJ Booth. The continued best of luck, my friend.
Ace Hood: Appreciate you, homie.