Masta Ace originally showed his face on the emcee scene with his verse on “The Symphony” in 1988 as a member of the Juice Crew. Despite usually being casted in the shadows of hip-hop gods and Juice Crew peers like Biz Markie, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Ace has still managed to continue making music for 24 years and has solidified himself as one of the most important NY rappers of all time. Even Eminem would co-sign that. We recently got a chance to sit down with the Juice Crew legend at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. He dropped some knowledge on us about his upcoming projects, his thoughts on the game of NY hip-hop, his relationship with MF Doom and more. Check out the exclusive interview below for the scoop.
Mass Appeal: What was you original inspiration behind creating the MA_DOOM: Son of Yvonne?
Masta Ace: A friend of mine had given me some [Doom] instrumentals a little over a year ago and I drove around with them just listening to them for about three or four months and I started to get ideas for lyrics for some of the beats. So I started thinking it’d be cool to do a mixtape over Doom beats and throw it out there for free, for the fans. I mentioned the idea to Fat Beats at a meeting a few months later and they felt like it was something we could release and sell commercially. At that point I made the decision to go in a make a more of a complete album with songs and have a theme and meaning behind it.”
What is the significance of working with an outlet like Fat Beats?
Fat beats is hip-hop. They’ve been in this game so long—the stores and the label—and being attached to a company that’s so entrenched in hip-hop has helped my brand move forward because fans know if Fat Beats is attached to it, it’s some real stuff. I think we kind a help each other in that way. It’s been a lot of years, I put out a lot of records with Fat Beats, a lot of 12 inches. I even dissed them on a 12-inch that they released (“Acknowledge”), but it was always just all love all the time.
How have you continued to make music for so long while a lot of your original Juice Crew peers haven’t been as active?
Well you know, a lot of the other dudes have had much more significant careers than me and their names were much bigger then mine, so I’ve always been just continuing to try to prove myself. Trying to measure up to Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, and Biz Markie. I’ve never had time to relax, and sit back on my success, I had to keep rocking, keep going. The fact those guys are so talented, just motivated me to try to raise my game and being as good as I could be.
MASTA ACE – MA_DOOM WEB SERIES #1
What has your relationship with Doom been like through the process of making the MA_Doom album?
I mean, we met and had spent sometime together. I played the whole album for him and it was the first time he heard all the songs. We connected at the Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland, and from there he made the decision he was down to rap on one of the songs. Since that time all my communication has been with his cousin and manager Big Ben. Big Ben and I are super cool, he’s one of the most down to earth brothers. Any communications has really been going to Doom through Ben.
Why have you chosen to do a series of viral videos leading up to the drop of MA_Doom?
To promote the record, be visible to the fans, and for people to get a little insight to my personality and what type of dude I am. I think these videos will help do that. A lot of times, fans only know you from your music, but once you release something a little more candid and in a more relaxed setting, it gives fans a little insight to what type of dude you may be if they were ever to meet you one day.
MASTA ACE – MA_DOOM WEB SERIES #2
What are your thoughts on the influx of new NYC rappers?
I’m just glad there’s some new cats coming out of New York, because New York is really trying to find itself right now. There was a time in hip-hop when NYC had a distinct sound. When you heard a song, you knew it was a NY artist. I think in the last 5/6 years, NY has been kind of watered down with this Down South vibe to it.
“It’s good that there’s some cats coming out trying to redefine that [NYC] sound, but I just hope its New York and not, ‘I’m from NY but I sound like I’m from Louisiana.’ I want some cats that sound like they’re from here.” – Masta Ace
MA_DOOM “PBS” (NOT APPEARING ON MA_DOOM: SON OF YVONNE)