At the turn of the century, a young battle rhymer stepped on the New York scene and dropped a classic track in “Area Codes”. Ace Lover would take New York’s underground by storm at a time it had an excellent and growing independent demographic. Known for his quick witted freestyles off the top of his head, (rumor has it he did “Area Codes” of the top of his head) Ace Lover would drop several classic 12 inch singles such as “Weed Spots” with it’s b-side, “Classic Characters” and in 2004 would drop the highly slept on album, Broke Minds Think Alike, with Oktober as part of the group 2For5. It would seem that Ace was poised to make his move on the music industry and drop an album for all the New York hardcore fans and bring the true hip hop flavor to the masses. It would never happen, Ace Lover kind of dropped out of the scene. But no fear, he is back, and he is making music and making moves again.
I was excited to get a chance to talk to Ace Lover. I was a big fan of his underground singles. Both “Area Codes” and “Weed Spots” are songs that I consider among the best since 2000. I was also a big fan of the Broke Minds Think Alike album. I sat down with Ace and talked about his past, his reputation as a battle rhymer, winning at the Braggin’ Rites battles often, the reason for his absence from the hip hop scene the past couple years and his new music……
Ace Lover – Weed Spots (2001)
Ace Lover – Livin’ On The Edge (2008)
Ace Lover – Put Yaself In My Place (2008)
WYDU: What’s good man, thanks for your time. Why don’t you do a quick introduction to the masses….
Ace Lover: What’s good, it’s the most ghetto fabulous, Ace Lover!! Still making it do what it do.
W: Good to hear man, nice to see you back on the scene. You’ve actually been around since the turn of the century. How did you get into the game? What were some of your early upbringing into hip hop and what were some of your influences?
AL: Just like anybody, I started as a fan of the music. Then my big homie back in the day wrote my 1st rime in 1992. I used to listen to Gang Starr, Slick Rick, Nas, Big L, Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, etc. I was always very artistic in every aspect and music was just another art form of expression for people that didn’t have much except creativity. Then I started battling and getting my credibility up in the streets and then at shows. I was in a battle, that’s when a man by the name of Phil Rust came up to me and asked me if I wanted to do a record and said he was going to pay me!!! So I was like, “Sure! Why Not?” Then shortly there after, I released my first record!!
W: You were around 16-17 years old when you got your first record deal, discuss how difficult it is, or isn’t, getting into the game at a relatively young age…..
AL: Actually it wasn’t that bad. I had a lot of great experiences after I released a record. I was at an all time high and just going with the momentum. I had a lot of fun! Later on it became it a little bit difficult dealing with people in the hood when they know I was doing something positive with myself. Other than that most people embraced me and it was cool.
W: You were signed to Marcion Records, who did have some talented artists, but never seemed to really “make it”. How was your experience with the label, was it a positive or negative one?
AL: I would have to say positive!!! They paid me, put me on the map on an international level, helped develop my styles musically, and Phil Rust is a cool guy. I don’t really have nothing bad to say about the experience.
W: Your style as an MC is somewhat different in that you sidestep the hardcore posturing. You use a lot of humor in your rhymes and your also known as an MC’s MC with great freestyle ability and the traditional braggadocios lyrics. Was that a deliberate type of thing, or just something that came naturally?
AL: I like to get a reaction from the crowd when I’m rhyming, so I guess I always kept that in mind when I was doing what I do. I was also very young and immature at the time too, so that played a part in it too. As I got older I started doing more serious content about whats going on the world but I still try to tap into that side of me as much as possible. Some of my favorite artist back then were Big L and Lord Finnesse and other artists that were real witty, so that also played a part in it.
WYDU: You also won several of the Braggin’ Rites MC battles. A lot of great battle rappers have problems making albums and songs. You seem to be able to work both angles quite well. How do you prepare and execute both styles so well? What is the difference in mindset when freestyling and constructing a song?
AL: There is definitely a big difference. I learned that when I started recording my first record. I had a lot of great mentors that taught me a lot of secret techniques of making a record. A lot of trial & error, practice, and experience. Freestyling is basically just saying whats on your mind at the second. It doesn’t take to much skill to freestyle except being spontaneous, witty, and a being quick thinker. I like making records a lot more now cause its like a painting, you can be very creative and do unlimited amount of styles.
WYDU: You had several 12 inch singles that made some noise on the underground/indie hip hop scene, with Weed Spots/That’s The Way It Is/Classic Characters and Area Code (212) b/w Lucky 7 being my personal favorites, yet we never saw an album at that time. What were the reasons behind the lack of an album at that time?
AL: I’m not sure , but I know vinyl was the sh*t back then though. I was just going with the flow. I’m currently working on a full length album as we speak and it’s coming out real hot .
W: You mentioned working with Phil Rust on those first couple singles, who probably isn’t very well known outside the indie NY hip hop scene. How was it working with him in those early years?
AL: It was pretty cool. He was very patient dealing with me when I was still developing as an artist. He is pretty easy to work with and open to new ideas as well as a very funny guy. He taught me a lot about how a record label works and a lot of technical stuff. It was cool.
W: Is there any truth to the rumor that you created a lot of those songs right on the spot, just freestyling?
AL: That’s true with “Area Code 1(212)” for the most part. “Lucky 7“, I wrote the night before. “Weed Spots”, I had the hook first then I wrote the verses right on the spot. With “Classic Characters”, myself, Life Long, & Loer got together and did that right on the spot. I like to work spontaneously to this day and dropping the lyrics while they are still fresh. I think every song is a little different though. Sometimes I come up with the hook and concept first, then I write the lyrics right on the spot. Its always a little different though.
W: You appeared with quite a few underground/independent NYC MC’s in the early days. The track “Lucky 7” was an underground track of who was who in those days. How was the scene back then in NY?
AL: That’s when the scene was at its peek a lot of records were coming out and a lot of independent hip hop artist were doing their thing including me. There was a large fan base for it too back then. I think as the fans got older they grew out of it a little bit.
W: One thing of yours that I’ve seen floating around on the internet is the “Ya Gyrls Favorite LP”, did you have anything to do with that or is that some bootleg floating around?
AL: Yea I put that together when I went on tour and a few sites picked it up here and there. It is pretty exclusive and hard to find.
AL: I already knew Oktober. We used to kick it in the streets a lot together. We did a song together, “Whats Ya Name?”, and it came out so good that Fat Beats wanted to pick it up. The buzz got so big that they wanted an album so we put that together. He’s a good guy but our egos were always clashing and it was hard to really work together. But he’s a cool guy and I want to get him on my new album, but to work with him on a group effort is very difficult. Its all love though.
W: A Japanese producer, Spier, who was a fairly unknown producer, produced the album? How did that get hooked up?
AL: That was Oktober’s homie & he produced “Whats Ya Name?” I had met him one time in Manhattan before that and the chemistry was cool so it seemed like a good idea at the time. He’s a great producer and DJ. He’s got a good ear! It was perfect for our sound and he was easy to work with.
W: You kind of dropped off the map after that album, where have you been and what have you been up to? What made you want to get back in the game?
AL: I started hustling again. The money was more lucrative than rapping so I was caught up with the street thang. Then I had got shot and couldn’t walk for a while, so that didn’t help. I was just healing and getting better. But I’m back to normal like nothing ever happened. I never stopped making music, I just wasn’t on the scene like that. I have just been living life and mastering my craft before I decided to get back into the game like that. You gotta do what you gotta do to survive. My music is my passion and my true love. I just can’t leave it alone even if I tried. I was born with an artistic mind, its not like a light switch that I can turn on and off at any time. It was something I was born with, I cant help it. I love music, every aspect of it! All types of music not just hip hop. I can’t leave it alone.
W: Good to know you are all good physically now. How do you feel about how
the Latin flavor is represented in Hip Hop these days?
AL: I don’t think it is really being represented like that in hip hop that much. I mean reggaeton is popping, buts that’s not really hip hop. There are a lot of latin hip hop artists that do their thing though.
W: You have your own label these days in the form Gutta Gutta Enterprises, what do you hope to accomplish with the label? Will it be something to strictly put your own music out there or are you hoping to get your Russell Simmons on and start an empire of new artists?
AL: I’m definitely going to release my music through my label. But you know hip hop is a young man’s game and when I get to old for this thang, I would love to keep creating music and putting it out to the new generation. I want to be able to teach the young artists everything I know and make incredible music. I have a niche for executive producing. I’m real good at making good records. I would like to release all kinds of music not just hip hop but that’s my specialty. Yea I definitely want to get my Russell Simmons on!! I’m going to probably change the name to something more universal thou, you know. I want to make a living off what I love.
W: Very nice! You mentioned plans for a new album, when can we expect that and what can expect from the 2008 version of Ace Lover? Any changes in style or topics?
AL: I’m hoping to have it out by September of this year! I have matured a little bit so its going to be a bit more serious, but I still want to have songs that will make you laugh and smile. It’s going to have a little street twist but I’m trying to make my music more universal where anybody can relate to it. From white, black, Hispanic, Asian, rich, poor, they can all get with it, ya understand. I would like to make hip hop a little bit more musical by incorporating real musicians, (bass players, guitars, drums, trumpets, pianos, singers,) and make it sound like real music. I’m still going to make traditional hip hop songs with that boom bap and samples, I love that too but I like experimenting as well. I think music should always be taking to the next level and do styles and techniques that’s never been done before, that’s what a real artist is. Being creative and blowing people away with incredible, innovative music. I want to make music that you could just listen to over and over a 100 times in a row. Addicting music! You just cant stop listening to it!
W: Sounds very interesting. What producers are you/do you want to work with on this new project?
AL: So far I got Black Panther, Robust, Oneman Productions, Fortune, IDE, xtraordinaire, Spier 1200(2For5) and Da Beatminerz. I want to get DJ Premier to give that official hip hop sound as well as Alchemist. I am going to executive produce a few tracks and get some incredible musicians together and put some real cool sounds together. As far as artists, one famous artist and one unknown artist. I always like to put someone new on. I might collaborate with Oktober on one song. I might have some special surprises too. I would like to do something again with Loer Velocity & Life Long, they have great voices. I might even do something with Phil Rust and bring it back to the foundation! You never know with me. I put a lot of hours into a song so its definitely going to be some incredible stuff to say the least.
W: I read somewhere that you wanted to sell more records than Eminem, is that still the goal? It’s a good goal for sure….haha…
AL: I would like to sell more records than him yes but that’s not my motivation. I’m not in competition with him or any other artist for that matter. I like Eminem’s music and I love great music in general. I would like to make a great living off what I love. My style is completely different from any artist though. I do music from the heart to make people feel emotions whether happy, sad, smooth, hard, cool, etc. It’s not all about that but I would love to have a very successful record just like any other artist. That was just something written by someone as a quick bio.
W: Yeah, I saw the tongue in cheek humor in it, but you gotta shoot for the stars for sure. How do you feel about the current state of hip hop? How much has it changed since 2000-2002? How much has it not changed?
AL: I like the new artist that have been doing there thing. It has evolved and the sound is a little different but I like the change. It needed it. I like artist like Slim Thug, Lil Keke, J Dawg, 50 Cent, Big Kuntry, Infamous Mobb, DJ Premier, Alchemist, Kanye West, etc . Hip hop culture is still thriving it just changed a little bit just like any other music in history. There are still artist out there that try to preserve hip hop. But I like being “out with the old and in with the new”. I respect all the artist that have paved the way for young artist like me to do my thing and I’m very grateful for what they have done. But I’m not mad at the current state of hip hop. The only thing that I don’t really like is that a lot of rappers try to duplicate a style that has already been done. A real artist tries to create something new and fresh like nobody out there. Anybody that says that hip hop is dead are just artists that haven’t had any success with their new music and people that are stuck in the past and can’t let go. There are only a few albums from the past that I could listen to from back in the days. Those are Illmatic, Lifestyles of The Poor & Dangerous, Step Into The Arena, as well as some songs here and there. But there s only but so many times you can listen to a song . So to answer your question it has changed a lot and it hasn’t at the same time. The culture is still thriving, keeping a lot of people sane and something to keep people smiling, dancing, happy, and hopes alive. Ya dig.
W: Even though I’ve lived out west my entire life, I’ve always been more partial to east coast hip hop, but it seems that NY has been slipping a bit the past few years. What is your take on hip hop in New York currently?
AL: There are a few good artist that are still doing there thing. But yea there’s a lot of B.S. out here though. But there are still great artist that come out of New York every few years or so. I think every hip hop artist should have street credibility but I think they’re too caught up with being the most gangsta, that they don’t put enough emphasis on the creative side of it. I love that hard shit but if they only put a lil’ bit more creativeness to it, I think that would fix it. There is a lot of talent out here, but there’s also a lot of B.S., so it makes it a lot harder to find! But don’t sleep.
W: Any last words?
AL: I would like to thank all my fans that have supported my music this whole time and let them know that I appreciate it very much. The new album coming out real soon. My new website, www.ACELOVERWORLD.com will be up very soon. On my site you can buy all my music that I have ever released. It will probably be up by the time anyone reads this. You can check out www.myspace.com/acelovertwb in the mean time. You can also download the Rare & Unreleased album on www.ITUNES.com, which contains exclusive material that was never released back in the day. Its older material and the new stuff is a lot better but if your interested, its there. It has a few good songs.
W: Thanks for taking the time to kick it with us and best of luck in the future…
AL: No Problem. Take care . 1