Bringing The Bay Beat back with a brand new interview!
Benjamin Cohn: Can you introduce yourself for anyone who may not know?
Call Me Ace: What’s good everybody! Call Me Ace - I got what you need, check me out! Haha.
BC: How long have you been in the Bay Area and what has your impression been so far?
Ace: I moved out here in summer 2014 to get my MBA at UC Berkeley, and I’d be lying if I tell you I ain’t love it here! Most my family and friends are still out East, so that part’s tough. But this weather man…also, just the fact that everybody’s mad laid back here. Being here also has given me more exposure to new experiences, lifestyle, and people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I can’t complain at all.
BC: Where did you grow up? What are some of the biggest differences and similarities to California?
Ace: I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, man, which is much more like Oakland than it is Berkeley. So when I go to Oakland I get that small feeling that I’m back home. And of course, what you see going on in parts of Oakland you also see happening back in Bridgeport, too. The biggest differences I’ve seen though would be the slang, attitude, and music styles. The Bay is it’s own unique bubble – I’m still learning about it.
BC: You took 5 years off from making music. You’ve said that you aren’t picking up where you left up but rather starting over completely. Why is that distinction important?
Ace: Back in the day, even though my nickname had always been Ace, my stage name was “Tha Pyro” - a “fire spitter,” as it were, haha. When I look back on what I rapped about though, while there were small glimpses of deep content, despite my thinking that I was being different, I was really just rapping about the same ol’ things as everyone else, maybe just with bigger words or a more detailed rhyme schemes.
Coming back now into music, I’m starting over. I’m not bringing old “Pyro” tracks into my track lists (even though with some searching, you could definitely still find some of that stuff online). Instead, it’s a new leaf, new mindset, new perspectives. I’ve grown a lot in those 5 years – my life is literally not the same as it was in many different ways. That’s why I’m saying that my goal isn’t to pick up where I left off or try and make up for “loss time.” For me, this isn’t just a whole different chapter. It’ s a whole different book. A sequel, rather than just “chapter 26.” That’s how I’m treating my resurgence in hip-hop.
BC: How does it feel to be back? How has the reception been?
Ace: It feels great man! People that knew me back then called me Ace anyway, so the name change wasn’t crazy, and they love the music still which is great. People that didn’t know me before are also feeling the vibes and songs I’m putting out too. I’m still someone who cares about what I’m saying and how, and that’s what’s been receiving the most positive feedback. That’s the gift. People also have given me great feedback on how I speak about various aspects of my life, from my past experiences to my faith. It makes things much realer for the listener, allows them to engage with me more, and, in a sense, make it feel like we’re having a dialogue about it all. Definitely inspires me to make more.
BC: 5 years later, you must have a much different view about a lot in regards to music and the music business. What do you hope to achieve this time around?
Ace: Oh for sure – being in business school also helped to give me a more professional perspective about how to engage in the music world. From having my own label – Light Armor Music – to not taking shortcuts around high-quality music. I definitely understand and appreciate the business side of music much more than when I was a 19-20 year old just trying to write, record, and throw in the blind.
At the same time though, I’m not doing this to become famous and make a lot of money. I don’t need to make music to put bread on the table. I don’t have to depend on my art as my “one shot to having a successful life.” Not having that burden is very freeing. It allows me to really be an artist, to express myself the way I want, and use my gift in the way that I feel called to do. I love to entertain, encourage, and inspire, and that’s what I intentionally hope to achieve this time around.
BC: And lastly, can you tell us about your upcoming project? The Out the Wilderness series, why did you call it that? What is this project all about?
Ace: Yea man. From a logistical standpoint, the Out the Wilderness project is a monthly series of track releases, and at the end there will be a final full project available. Conceptually, “Out the Wilderness” means two things to me: 1) simply, five years of “not creating” has been somewhat of a wilderness, so making music is coming out of that environment, and 2) moving from New York/Metro Area to the Bay Area and leaving my friends and family behind has made these past couple years also feel like a different type of wilderness in a way. Now though that I’m about to graduate from business school, get married, and start a new career, there’s just this huge sense of transitions and new phases that I’m experience in this season. This project is me expressing all of that.
BC: Thank you for your time! Any final/last thoughts you want included?
Ace: I’m a fan of real support and conversations, so if you’re feeling the music and want to stay up-to-date with me, please join me newsletter (http://eepurl.com/bYii1b) and follow me on the Instagram (@acexpatt) and Facebook (Call Me Ace) And we can stay connected!