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Ace Hood Discusses His Latest Album, Dj Khaled’s Influence and New Rap

It appears Ace Hood’s hustle is finally paying off.

The “Hustle Hard” rapper hit the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week with his latest LP, Blood, Sweat & Tears, which sold 25,000 copies and debuted at No. 10.

Fresh off his highest charting album to date, the Florida spitter chopped it up with XXL about his career, his relationship with his mentor DJ Khaled and what the near future has in store for him.—Derryck Nes

For those that haven’t picked it up yet, tell the fans what they can expect from Ace Hood and Blood, Sweat & Tears?

People can expect from me much more music, much more great music, building my brand, and working with some of their favorite artists. People can also expect me to open up other business ventures, maybe a shoe line, and just giving them that feeling like with “Hustle Hard” and “Go Get It.” Blood, Sweat & Tears represents struggle, what I’ve been through and what it took me to make it through and become a survivor. Three, Four, Five years from now people can listen to this album and see that these are the same things going on in their communities, the same struggles… It’s not only my life it’s everyone else’s lives as well—people go through the same things I’ve been through and that I still go through everyday.

“Hustle Hard” is a street banger. Did you expect the single and remix to be this big?

Ace Hood: I didn’t expect “Hustle Hard” to be as big as it was. It was originally a mixtape record and I actually had another recorded that I was really feelin’ but we put (“Hustle Hard”) out. People in the streets love it and the energy. There was a tremendous response in Broward County, where I’m from. The response and the love is crazy, hustle hard is definitely a hustler’s anthem and it’s a really big record.

How much of a role did DJ Khaled play in your new project? Who else worked on the set?

Khaled let me do me. Nobody could get my story across the way I could, so, I didn’t want that much help and guidance. But Khaled was there for me through the whole process. He gave his input creatively and was definitely there to support me. He let Ace Hood be Ace Hood and he let me tell my story. As far as production, I worked with a lot of in-house producers. I also worked with Cardiak, Yaya, Whitehouse and Sony Digital. I didn’t want to do too many features. My message on this album is a personal one, so I didn’t want people to overshadow me. Yo Gotti and Kevin Cossom make guest appearances.

How excited is the home team of We the Best feeling about Ace Hood’s future right now?

We the Best is tremendously excited. This is what we always dreamed of for me and for the whole We the Best family. Khaled is so excited. This was a dream for me and for me to have a top 10 record, getting on the label and reppin’ me and my city. Def Jam is excited because the album is very authentic—nothing is fabricated. I’m a young brother who’s been through ups and downs and trials and tribulations and I’m excited to tell people about my struggles and my pain and getting through that. Both We the Best and Def Jam are overwhelmed in a good way with the project.

Now that your music is falling into place, are there any side ventures you’re considering?

I’m currently focusing on my music. I wanna be successful in one area before venturing off. I definitely would act, but I’m currently focusing on expanding my fanbase and the Ace Hood brand. I would like to play someone like myself who struggled… I would want it to be serious, and at the end you get to see someone who made it through negativity and struggle.

Taking into account the accessibility of the internet, do you think there is such thing as over-saturation?

Never such a thing of over-saturation. When you have the opportunity to be heard and put out records, it’s vital to put out good music because you have people’s attention and they want to hear music and you want to get people behind you. As long as it’s good music there’s no such thing as over-saturation.

Do you feel your generation of rappers is taking rap to a significant level of artistry?

I definitely feel like [we] are taking things to another level. Everybody is playing a different role. A lot of issues that are being spoken about by [J. Cole] and others are relevant issues. Everyone talks about their struggle and their hustle and makes records about getting through the pain.

You usually have messages behind your songs. Is it possible, in your opinion, to tell your story and keep the energy up of your fans at the same time?

Yeah , I feel like what’s so great about my music is that I found a way to incorporate all those things and everyday struggles into my music. You can still have fun, and still make music for the streets. You can hear the passion, and have all those aspects and make a successful song.

From your first project up to now, what has been the most trying moment for you in this business?

Taking a year off and dealing with a lot of personal and financial ups and downs, a lot of adversity and a lot of trial and tribulations. Taking that time off to find myself as an artist and a man and really trying to figure out what my main focus is and how am I gonna approach life and the music business—that was definitely my biggest area of growth for me.

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