Ace Hood on Starvation 5 and the Future of Hood Nation

With the release of his latest mixtape, Starvation 5, under his belt, Ace Hood is aiming to focus on the next phase of his life and career. The Broward native has spent nearly a decade dropping off his revered mixtape series and a slew of radio smash hits, but now his future with DJ Khaled’s We the Best Music Group appears to be up in the air after a contentious split (which he wished not to discuss in this interview). But Ace Hood isn't dwelling on the past. He's shifting his hardworking energy toward his own imprint, Hood Nation.

“My brand is my focus,” Ace said over the phone. “Hood Nation is me. Hood Nation is what I represent. It’s just me. I speak for the people, and that’s what it represents.”

The 28-year-old lyricist took several new creative approaches on his latest project, like striving for zen through yoga before hitting the studio. We caught up with Ace to catch up about the making of his new 18-track project featuring Rick Ross, Fabolous, and Lil Haiti’s rising rapper, Bruno Mali. 

Miami New Times: During your recent Facebook Live session, you said “Cold Shivers” is one of your favorite tracks on Starvation 5. Do you feel like the strong themes in the song are relatable to families not only in the U.S. but also around the world, especially in more terror-prone areas?
Ace Hood: Of course, man. It’s a tragic call that no one wants to get. It’s that worst case scenario. It’s that fear. My mom always reminded me when I was younger that she was so strict because so much was happening in the world. She didn’t want to be that mother to ever get that call and hear that something went wrong out there with her son or loved one. Many people around the world can relate to that record.

There seems to be some controversy behind your track “Message to the Label.” You don’t necessarily fire shots at anyone in particular, but I feel like there’s a deeper, more personal message to it. Explain your mind state when you made that record.
I was in a place of righteousness. I felt righteous. I felt worthy. I was in a place of an "enough is enough" type of thing. This is me ultimately telling people that I am one of the best in this industry, and if not, I’m going to prove that. It’s a whole lot of hustling, grinding, and patience for me. That was my mind frame. I was just really, really feeling myself and saying, hey, I’ve been through a lot in this game. I’ve been able to stay relevant. I’ve been able to put out great music for almost ten years now. 
This is the fifth installment of the mixtape series. What’s something you did differently this time around that you didn’t do in the past?
I meditated and did yoga. Any other project, I never did that. I took the time out to work with myself. I was patient. I allowed the music and the instruments to really speak to me, and not speak coming from a place of what’s current and what’s hot right now. So for me, it just allows me to trust in my gut a lot more and trust in my feelings. By mediating and reaching a higher level, I was just like, this is what I want to do. This is what I want to say. So let’s approach the project as such from a very true place, a genuine place, and a positive place.

Do you have any plans to continue the series or finally move on to your next album?
I can’t tell you that, man. Everybody’s been asking, but I gotta leave some things for a surprise. Starvation 5 is a great project, and I got a lot of work left to do, like releasing videos and whatnot. But the next project will be even more powerful. It’s going to be hard. I can definitely tell you that.

You’ve said before that you want to give the people a voice via Hood Nation. You’ve also been spotted in Wynwood protesting with Black Lives Matter. Is it important to you to to give the people a voice in the community through your music?
Absolutely. I feel like not only speaking for the people but being a part of the people. That’s what I believe in — physically being out there with the people. That march [in Wynwood] was amazing. I also went to the One Union Bank, which was dope, and if I’m not mistaken, it's the largest black-owned bank in the world. So anything I can do to touch the people is important — my people and all people. That’s what it's about. The more that I can do and the more insight and wisdom that I can give to the people, I’m all for it. 
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Tony M. Centeno
Contact: Tony M. Centeno