Ace Hood gets personal on Trials & Tribulations, his fourth full-length album and first for We The Best Music/Cash Money Records. It's more than just a collection of songs for the gold-selling Florida MC. In fact, it tells his story.
"It's my journey," he explains. "It's a reflection on my life up to this point. It's what I represent. It's what I believe in. It's my faith. It's my hunger for success. I've endured a bulk of things personally and professionally. I went through these Trials & Tribulations to get here."
So where is Ace Hood at right now? Well, the irresistible and inescapable lead-off single from the album, "Bugatti" featuring Rick Ross and Future and produced by Mike WiLL Made It [Juicy J, Rihanna], gave him his second gold plaque (his first was for Hustle Hard in 2011) shortly after it dropped in early 2013. Moreover, it became a ubiquitous anthem, burning up radio, notching 21 million-plus YouTube/VEVO views, and drawing Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, French Montana, T.I., and more to a high-profile remix. Still, it was only a piece of a larger puzzle for the artist.
"This is a complete vision," he goes on. "On my past few albums, I was still figuring out who I am. This was the first time I was able to record and understand who I am. My sound is finally locked in. I know what I have to offer the game. I know the mark I want to leave on this hip-hop community. I know what I want to gain by creating this type of music. Every record has a deep meaning."
That holds true for the second single "We Outchea" featuring label mate and rap icon Lil Wayne. As "Bugatti" exploded, Ace joined Weezy in the studio to up the ante yet again. The result is a slick and sizzling banger that touts another massive hook and fierce rapping from both gentlemen.
Ace proclaims, "That's definitely an anthem. Being 'Outchea' is a lifestyle. It's about being on every scene. It's about doing what you've got to do for your family and loved ones. We've to be 'Outchea' to have anything in life. I soaked up the energy and saw how Wayne worked in the booth. I was happy to witness him create, and when it was done, I was ecstatic. You've got a guy who's on that level, and one who's aspiring to be there. It's awesome."
Elsewhere on the album, Ace's fierce flow drives the thoughtful "Testimony," while he ruminates on the ups and downs of the game with the pensive "Come Up." Then there's "Another Statistic," which looks back on his life and struggle.
"As a community, we should never want to just be another statistic," he continues. "Growing up, I didn't want to be like the dudes on the block who sold dope or ended up in the pen. I made up my mind that I wanted something greater for myself and my family."
He started working tirelessly towards that in high school. Sidelined by a football injury, the budding MC rapped in his high school cafeteria to the cheers of his classmates, realizing his gift early on. In 2007, he took a random chance and rolled up outside of DJ Khaled's radio station. Seeing the personality, artist, producer, and mogul in the parking lot, Ace handed him a package with a CD. Khaled called days later.
"I didn't think I'd even meet him," smiles Ace. "I believe everything happens for a reason and that day changed my life. He's 500 percent energetic all the time. He's always turned up. We're brothers. He gives me so much insight and input. To have someone like him believe me is amazing. We're in this together."
Khaled signed him to his imprint We The Best Music, and he went on to release Gutta in 2008, Ruthlessin 2009, and Blood, Sweat, & Tears in 2011, which spawned the hits "Hustle Hard" and "Body 2 Body" featuring Chris Brown. However, everything has been only leading up Trials & Tribulations.
This is his time. Khaled puts it best, "Ace Hood is going to be one of the greatest. He is We The Best Music. Don't ever forget that. He is a beast."
Cash Money Records co-Founder and C.E.O. Bryan "Baby" Williams aka Birdman agrees. "It's incredible to watch Ace Hood's rise, and we're honored he's part of the family. He's got true power and passion, and that's what it takes to be legendary."
This "beast" is loose, and he has his sights set on the top. "I want people to feel how real this music is," concludes Ace Hood. "If I can inspire or motivate one person, my job is done. I want to get that message across. I want to bring substance back. My passion and hunger have only increased with Trials & Tribulations. I'm becoming more of a beast."