AN ACE IN THE HOLE
A Conversation with Rap Star ACE HOOD
By Lori Zimmer
Ace Hood is a young man who was in the right place at the right time. Sure, the Florida native is uber-talented, but he amazingly fast-forwarded through all of the early obstacles young rappers face when starting out. Ace Hood’s figurative time machine came one fateful day when he was just 19, when he showed up at a local radio station with the pipe dream that he’d rap for resident DJ Khaled. Khaled took him under his wing, and the rest has been a ride on the fast track.
Over the last three years, Ace Hood has put out three well-received albums: 2008’s Gutta, 2009’s Ruthless, and last month’s highly anticipated Blood, Sweat, & Tears, which could be considered his breakthrough album. A quick study, his third album has all the fan fare that rappers who have been in the business for years have. Tracks produced by Lex Luger and J.U.S.T.I.C.E., as well as guest spots by T-Pain, Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross and Chris Brown, have helped crafted Hood’s most personal album into his best–introducing Hood to his collaborators’ fans, while simultaneously making more of a name for himself.
But even Hood admits, getting plucked and put right into the hot seat isn’t always easy. Without the days of hustling through small clubs, mixtapes and demos, he has had to learn from his own mistakes under the public eye, instead of under the safety of anonymity.
That said, DJ Khaled may have gotten his foot in the door, but Hood’s talent is what has kept him there, and earned him a following of fans, in the public and industry alike.
Lori Zimmer: How did you meet your mentor DJ Khaled?
Ace Hood: I met DJ Khaled outside of a radio station, on just a random day in the hood. I hopped up off the couch and just went to the station because I wanted to rap for him so that he’d let me perform at his birthday bash.
When he showed up at the station he was headed to a meeting but asked me if I had a CD or bio so my homie went to the car and grabbed him a CD. Khaled said he’d listen to it and give me a call later on. I figured nothing would come of it, but next thing I know my phone’s ringing that night. He said he wanted to hear me on a bigger record so sent me the “I’m So Hood” instrumental. I laid down a couple verses and sent it back. A couple weeks later we were talking We The Best Music Group.
LZ: DJ Khaled brought you along for the ride along with his success–throwing you into the limelight at age 20–and a recording contract. How did you handle suddenly having your career fast-forwarded?
AH: It was tough…very tough for me. I was young and I jumped right into the game, I didn’t know the business well at all. I was fresh off sitting home so I just sat back and let it take its course. I didn’t know what to say, what to do. Life was so fast and I was able to make money here, make money there. It was definitely hard to adapt to it, but thankfully I made it work.
LZ: How did this affect your music?
AH: It really didn’t affect my music too much. I wouldn’t say it affected it at all actually. My music represents me and my lifestyle and the things I’ve been through, so that never changed.
LZ: Growing up in Florida, when did you start getting into music? Who were your early influences?
AH: My early influences were T.I., Lil Wayne, the Hot Boyz, Soulja Slim and Trick Daddy. I got into music initially because I wanted to be a star. I wanted to make my mother proud. I was always considered the hard-headed one so I wanted to find something that represented me, but that I could do legit and make her proud.
LZ: Your third album, Blood, Sweat & Tears dropped a little over a month ago–and has been called your best yet. Congrats! Tell me about the creative differences over your last three albums.
AH: My first two albums were learning experiences. Gutta was me fresh off the block. Ruthless was even more of a learning experience as I grew in the industry. Blood, Sweat & Tears is an album that’s totally me. It’s me as a person, it’s what I went through, my trials and tribulations, and what I had to experience at a young age. I wanted to be brutally honest and let the fans be a part of it. It is my most personal album thus far and my best work.
LZ: Tell us about working with Chris Brown on the single “Body 2 Body.”
AH: Working with Chris Brown was dope. We actually didn’t get in the studio to record together. My homie Kevin Cossom wrote the reference then I sat on it for a month or so, but it came back up and I started to love it. I laid my vocals down and sent the record to Chris. He loved it and said don’t give it to no one else, I’m gonna cut it ASAP. A week or so later we were shooting the video in the Hollywood Hills.
LZ: What is your favorite track on the album?
AH: Definitely “Lord Knows.” Just because it’s about things that I went through. Tough nights, tough times. Only Lord knows the things that I’ve endured, trying to get back on in the industry and create the album and provide for family.
LZ: The video for “Letter To My Exes/Tear Da Roof” debuted September 8th–you’re working with amazing people–what’s next for Ace Hood?
AH: More good music. More mixtapes for the people, for my fans. I’m going to continue to stay out there, keep my face out there, keep the music flowing in. I’m on tour as we speak. Get used to Ace Hood, there’s gonna be a lot more of me.
Ace Hood is a rap star who just released his third album Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Ace Hood Interviewed by Lori Zimmer
Written by Lori Zimmer
Photography Courtesy of Def Jam Records & Nick Carcaterra (Susan Blond, Inc.)
Design by Clementine Jang
Ace Hood, 2011, Photography Courtesy of Def Jam Records & Nick Carcaterra (Susan Blond, Inc.)