With his new EP M.I.N.D. released last week, we sit down with rapper Ace Hood to discuss his transition from major label to independent artist, his business ventures outside music, and his relatively new but growing soccer fandom.
Ace Hood is a name you might not have on your radar all the time. But for many rap fans, he certainly brings up good memories of feeling empowered and motivated. He gave us hits like “Cash Flow,” “Hustle Hard,” and “Bugatti” throughout the 2000s and 2010s, but the Broward County Boss hasn’t gone anywhere — he just switched lanes and went independent in 2016. Since then, he’s continued to build his brand of authentic ambition.
He’s still the same hungry artist — he even had a whole mixtape series called Starvation — but he has a different vision for how he wants to leave his legacy. He’s a family man who posts about the joy his wife and kids give him on social media. He’s a life-long sports fan who has embraced fitness as part of his personal brand. He even started his own company, #Shredded, as an extension of what he’s already created through his music, now offering workout routines, nutrition tips, and words of wisdom to reflect on.
Ace Hood is no stranger to hardship and everything he preaches in his music or workouts, he’s had to apply for himself. He grew up in Deerfield Beach, Florida in an underserved community that is predominately Black. He grew up without his father. He ascended in the rap world with the co-sign of DJ Khaled in a deal that also came with the burden and restrictions of being signed to a major label. But he made the decision to rise above and has chosen to reflect how he’s operating on a higher frequency in his new music.
He released his new project, the M.I.N.D. EP, on Friday. The title is an acronym for “Memories Inside Never Die,” and is a call for his fans to find healing and freedom from the thoughts that paralyze us from moving forward in life. With lines like, “I used to pick up beef before my salad, let that marinate” on “Demonstration,” he’s honest about his personal growth while ensuring that his bars are still elite. The motivational “Glory” utilizes a racing piano soundscape while Ace Hood shows his versatility on the synth-pop “Free.”
But no matter what the music actually sounds like, Antoine McColister has a clear mission to let his light shine. He wants to let people know that they don’t have to be defined by their circumstances, that they can build generational wealth, break generational curses, and live above the memories inside.
We were able to speak with Ace Hood about his new music, how independence has allowed him to expand his brand, his fitness ventures, and how he stays motivated himself. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Urban Pitch: The EP is called M.I.N.D. or “Memories Inside Never Die.” What were some of those memories and inspiration behind this project and that title?
Ace Hood: I think one thing that inspired that was for one, I believe that a lot of things happen in the mind. A lot of things happen in our memories. “Memories Inside Never Die” — it’s an accumulation of experiences or things that may have happened throughout our lives that shaped us to be who we are.
But I think the interesting thing about the memories never dying is ultimately what I’m saying is to overcome them we need to be able to feel these feelings, move through these low-frequency feelings that we may be feeling. So I think that when we don’t heal our feelings, long story short, those memories never die.
I think if we don’t create healthy boundaries, healthy relationships, really tap into ourselves to find or at least get in touch with the higher version of ourselves — I think if we don’t clear out some of these issues or some of the things that we’re dealing with, whether that might be social issues that I’ve dealt with, racial issues that I’ve dealt with, inferior ideals that I had growing up, things that I’ve dealt with and seen in my community, just those type of things that have made me who I am and also gave me profound experience to allow me to liberate through those experiences.
I love the duality of that. When I saw the title at first, I thought of the positive things, of what shapes you. But I love what you said about creating boundaries, I know even for myself those negative memories can paralyze me. That’s good to think about.
Absolutely, I think that’s part of why I feel the project was important and necessary for me and the world. In my community, and obviously the industry, I think it’s just saying something different. My goal is to always be able to push people forward, to make myself better so the people around me can also become better as well. That’s what I like to see this as. To be able to help people find themselves and return to themselves in a sense, being able to face your feelings and be able to move through those things so you can reach the other end of that.
The single “Glory” is another motivational anthem, which is something you do so well. What was your creative process for this one?
You know really what goes into my creative process, I’m always coming from a place of truth. At this particular time, I want to unapologetically stand in my truth and who I am and what I stand for.
With “Glory,” I was always coming from a place where I feel like the people who were here before me created this level of freedom or this space and opportunity. For the most part, I create from that place of, “Will they be proud of it?” There’s a lot of things internally that I deal with and I think “Glory” came about because it stems from me not celebrating myself enough. So that was the ideology behind that.
I felt like I’ve given fans so much of my struggle and pain throughout my career and also amazing hits as well, but I think the body of work has always been from a different frequency than where I am now. I think I’m coming from a place now where I’m like, “What would my ancestors think of this? Would my grandmother or those who fought for us to have a voice, would they be proud of what it is that I represent?”
So mainly I’m always in that space of just how can I carry people through? I want to give to people my life, I want to be able to live in my glory. I want to be able to celebrate myself as an independent artist because I put a lot of work into what I do and I don’t always value that. So this is a reminder to myself and to others to bask in your glory. Whatever that might look like, it’s important that we stop, look around sometimes and kind of pat ourselves on the back for the work that we put in, so that doesn’t go unnoticed. That was the idea behind “Glory.” To pay homage to where I am now and to the work that I’ve done previously, and to the people who’ve done it before me.
When your wife gave you the plaques for your independent work, you’ve previously said how that was a turning point for you to acknowledge your own success. What did that mean to you for her to do that for you?
Oh man, it meant everything. Everything. I think mainly to be seen. I’m a Black man and I grew up in a predominately Black neighborhood and community. I didn’t come from a place to where I grew up being seen per se. We were always good for the things outside of ourselves, whether that might be sports, how cool we are, how good we can dress, for being smart, for being other things, but never for being seen for who you are.
So I think in that moment when my wife presented me with those plaques, that’s what I felt and that’s what sparked the emotional feelings for me. Just me feeling like, man, I’ve done so much in my life and I’ve done so much for people and I just never felt valued in that way of just really being seen, knowing I put in all this hard work and didn’t value myself in that way. For her be in it with me, but to also watch me go through some of my things, go through some of these uncomfortable moments and struggle at times, but also see me in very resilient moments and see me in a place to where I get my just due. It’s a very beautiful moment. I was surprised, I was shocked, and I above all felt grateful. It reminded me to love on myself, to remind yourself to love yourself even more.
I know sports and music go together as motivation, and I know you’re a big sports fan in general. How does sports motivate you creatively?
Sports is everything for me. I grew up an athlete, I’ve always been an athlete. So for me, it’s a part of my morale. Training has helped me because I think it’s given me an outlet to be able to move the energy that might be inside of my body. I think that’s what’s so great about training and working out and being into fitness, is I never trap the energy. I always get to move it, get it out of my system, because I believe it has to go somewhere.
It’s something I’ve always loved, something that when I started on my independent journey, it was a reminder that I needed to check for myself on a mental level, on a physical level, on a spiritual level. So I did deep-diving into chiseling myself and my frame and being mindful of the things that I eat. So sports is literally my entire life. It’s a part of really who I am for sure.
Since going independent it’s been apparent that you are more open about being a family man and how much fitness means to you. How has that helped you to be more well-rounded?
My whole ideology of leaving and doing my own independent thing was for me to be seen and to be able to be represented as a whole human being. I want people to be able to value my totality. So being in the industry or whatnot, when you get with these labels, we kind of restrict ourselves. We place ourselves in these boxes where the people that we’re working with, for, or around all start to see us one way. We start to produce the same music, we start to say the same thing. To me, it all starts to feel the same.
It’s a part of the entertainment programming. Part of what I wanted to do was create something new, which means being able to be seen for who you are in totality. I think that’s important as opposed to just getting a portion of a person. And as we continue to grow, I think that’s more realistic.
I don’t only want people to understand my ideas from a mental perspective, but also see my physical level up, my spiritual level up. So to me, all of those elements, that’s why I’m proud to be married. I think that’s a very deep spiritual lesson. I think there’s so much joy and love that comes from that situation. I’ve been growing to see things differently. That was really my mind state and mindset with that was to be seen as a total human being and that’s what I give off, that’s what I represent: family man. Being with my wife and then spending time with my children, then going off and doing tours and locking in on my music. Being represented as a whole person is important.
How has being a businessman with #Shredded empowered you?
#Shredded is me getting my feet wet in the business of things. It’s been running now for about two, two-and-a-half years. #Shredded is a holistic program. It’s again, representing the totality. It gives people the tools to be able to live a happier, healthier life all around. There’s nutritional tips in there. There’s physical workouts, physical fitness plans, me actually modeling these traits and plans.
It’s taught me a lot. I think with the fitness industry, there’s so much opportunity, especially for me and my music. Naturally, my fans would always tell me constantly, “Yo, man, what it is that you’re eating?” Or “What it is that you’re doing to get your physique the way that it is?” People have always trained to my music. My music has always made you wanna get up and do something, conquer something, be something, change a certain way or create a certain dialogue about whatever that might look like. It made sense that I give people the soundtrack and the tools to life. So give you what you need in terms of the health and wellness, and then also give you the soundtrack to be able to pair that with the training and the dieting and the mindful gems. It’s a holistic thing. Everything you need in one shot.
As a sports fan, what do you see and appreciate about soccer?
The energy. I’m always one for energy. The frequency that’s always shooting through the stadium is always crazy. I think the passion that soccer fans have all around the world — I’ve traveled overseas and been out of the country and been to some places and they always are literally super obsessive about soccer. I think the game is dope. I love the athleticism. I’m familiar with a few players. I don’t know enough about it, but will I go to a game? Do I think I’ll enjoy it in person more? Absolutely.
On this project and even before, you had talked about being a light. On “Demonstration” from M.I.N.D., you talk about stepping into the role of a hero. I know you take the need to be the light very seriously, which can be tiring and heavy sometimes. How do you keep yourself going and keep yourself refreshed in that mission?
Man, that is such a good question. I think for me, I’m mindful of the world that my kids are growing up in. I’m mindful that I’m at the point now to where I’m a man of crazy integrity and crazy morals.
What keeps me on that path is knowing that I’m speaking for my children at this particular time. Even though I’m speaking for myself and creating a certain space and liberation for myself and that change starts with me, I think that above all, I want to create something much healthier for my children. Which means that I didn’t come from generational wealth, I didn’t come from tons of money, a family who had it. I came from a broken household. My father wasn’t there. He really wasn’t around. My mom, we had our type of verbal abuse. So I say all that to say, I’ve had the alternative. This goes back again to me talking about going through those experiences of what it was like to not have, to not have the generational wealth, to live in a low frequency, to make decisions that weren’t so great for myself, to treat people in ways that I wouldn’t want to be treated, to misrepresent. I’ve been all of that. All of that on the other end of the spectrum.
I think for me at this time, it’s kind of like walking into an unknown space, creating something much newer. I’m reminded of the society we live in. I’m reminded of the injustice, of my people that’s still living in communities that’s dealing with inferiority. So to me, I take all of this in a positive light and I’m reminded of my purpose here on earth and why it’s important for me to push this narrative forward because I don’t think there are enough leaders.
When I look back at the Fred Hamptons or the Marcus Garveys or a Huey P. Newton or Malcolm X, these leaders, these were people that were actually saying things. They were standing for what they believed in and they were unapologetic about what they believed, no matter what happened. They were willing to live for it. They were willing to die for it. I’m willing to live or die for what I believe in in terms of pushing forward a better narrative, a stronger narrative, a healthy narrative.
And whether or not I get that level of freedom in my lifetime, I give a better opportunity for my children to be able to have that if I can create that system. But it starts to me with being someone, walking into a place that you haven’t been before. So I had to walk into a space and I had to become somebody that I wasn’t familiar with.
I think that’s what keeps my mind on such a positive pattern with this. Even though I struggle, even though sometimes I get upset and I get frustrated, it’s challenging to want to stay positive and want to stay in the light. But I think that’s what makes me special is the fact that I can stand in that light and be myself and not have to downgrade my self-esteem or disrespect nobody to make myself feel larger or put someone else down to make myself feel a certain way. I think it’s necessary and that’s the part of my purpose on this earth. Even though it’s hard to struggle, I’m destined for great things in this world, so I never complain about the hardships in my life. I know it’s tough to where I’m pushing, it’s the same way for anybody, for Jesus, for anybody who climbed that ladder or tried anything great, there’s a lot at stake. It comes at a great cost.
Listen to “M.I.N.D.” on all streaming platforms now.