FEATURE: Masta Ace & Edo G, Banned From TV
The Yankees and Red Sox may have a long-standing rivalry, but that hasn’t stopped Brooklyn MC Masta Ace and Boston rap veteran Edo G to join forces. After collaborating on wax in the past, the underground legends decided to do a full-length album, Arts & Entertainment, which was released today (November 3).
Known collectively as A&E (despite the wishes of the cable network), Edo and Ace have both been on the scene nearly two decades, more than proving their love for the art and musical consistency. In fact, A&E put their respective groups—eMC and Special Teamz—on hold to complete the project.
With the videos for “Little Young” and “Ei8ht is Enough” already turning heads, Ace and Edo are gearing up for tours in the US, Europe, and Canada. Before hitting the road, XXLMag.com caught up with the hip-hop veterans to speak about how the industry has changed through the years and what their own sports or reality show would be like.
XXLMag.com: Apart from it being your initials, what’s the significance of the album title, Arts & Entertainment, and what impact did the network have on you guys using the A&E name?
Masta Ace: The album was always gonna be called Arts & Entertainment and we were [already] calling ourselves A&E. That’s still the name of the group, we just couldn’t use the logo because we didn’t wanna ruffle no feathers over at the network. Even though the album cover says Ace and Edo, we’ll still be referred to as A&E. Aside from the fact that that’s the name of the network, we felt like it was standing for what we were trying to do musically, because aside from us putting down our art, at the same time we’re trying to entertain people.
Masta Ace: I think artists are trying to find other revenue streams. You reach a certain point with your solo career where you feel like maybe you’ve maxed out a little bit, and it starts to become the same old thing where you do an album and tour with it. Maybe artists are starting to feel like they don’t want people to be bored, they want people to still be excited with what they’re doing, so let’s figure out a way to reinvent, repackage, and come with something little bit different. It gives us a whole new opportunity to tour with an entirely different movement, entirely different sound, logo—everything is different—and we still do our classic records in the mix, too.
Edo G: The Boondocks thing came when Aaron [McGruder] contacted me because I guess he was going through some of his favorite songs and that happened to be one of them. They reached out to me and said, “Can we get it in the show?” And I was like, “Hell, yeah.” I don’t think it had any role in this particular collaboration. This all came about around the end of 2007. This cat who did about three tracks on the album, DJ Supreme One, came to us with a budget. Initially, this was going to be Supreme One presents Ace and Edo. The timing was right and there was a budget in place, so we didn’t have to do anything. Then, the budget halfway through ran dry, and me and Ace took the bull by the horns from there and rolled hard to make this album what it is.
XXLMag.com: Playing off the whole TV theme, what would the name and premise of an Ace and Edo reality show be?
Edo G: I don’t know what it would be called; I’d have to think about that. It took us almost two years to make the album, so we don’t rush into anything. Off the top, maybe, The Lives of Ace and Edo, or something like that. It would be following the lives of two legendary underground rappers and what we go through in the business—the different ups and downs and trials and tribulations—so people can really get a glimpse into how our machine works and the grind that we go through to make this thing happen.
XXLMag.com: If Arts & Entertainment was an actual TV show, who would the guest stars be?
Masta Ace: It would definitely be starring DJ Spinna, as like the landlord or something. DJ Supreme One, who produced three tracks on the album, would be the neurotic neighbor who can’t keep still and can’t shut up. It would be starring me and Edo G, of course. We’d probably be living next door to each other arguing about playing loud music or some other nonsense. It would be starring the Bundys, who actually are on the album, as the husband and wife couple who you hear in the skits. Who else, Ed?
Edo G: It would star M-Phazes, who produced three tracks on the album, as well, including “Little Young.” Do It All would be the neighbor, you know, he would pop up now an then—he just be showing up or he be in the house when you get there. And then Large Professor, you would see him from time to time, but then you wouldn’t see him.
Masta Ace: He’d be in the basement, creating some bombs or something, some wild stuff in his apartment.
XXLMag.com: Both of you have dropped sports references in your music before. Actually, Ace, you coach a high school football team. Do you think y’all could host your own sports show?
Edo G: We threw that idea around a couple of times about in the future maybe trying to get a hip-hop sports show. There’s none on radio. There’s some guys who are hip-hop, but they’re not hip-hop guys, if you get my drift. It would be a great idea because sports and music fuse together. The athletes love our music, and we love the athletes, so it would be a great mix.
XXLMag.com: The video for “Ei8ht is Enough” dropped recently and Edo says, “This whole industry is troublesome.” What did you mean by that?
Edo G: I think there’s changes for the good and changes for the bad. When we first came up, there was a balance in hip-hop, and in mainstream radio and videos. There’s no balance right now as far as what commercial radio is playing. The positive side of that is that we have the Internet now. You can reach a million people with a video just as easy. You don’t need television and radio as much as you did when we first came out—it was a total part of everything we did. It’s a double edged sword, but I think with the advent of the Internet and it being so popular, you can reach as many people as you want, you can promote, you can be more successful as an independent artist these days as opposed to back in the early 1990’s. —Adam Fleischer