Saturday, November 10, 2012

Masta Ace (Hiphop Royalty) The Showcase (Stand Up or Fall Back Issue)

Royalty Magazine: What's good? How's life treating you?

Masta Ace: Not bad. New record out. I'm running around promoting that. Football season, which is always great. Big football fan. Coaching, getting ready for the NFL season. Enjoying my family summer. That's about it.

Royalty Magazine: Well 2012 crept in, out and is damn near gone! What are some of your greatest accomplishments or memories from this year? Tell us one thing that you will do differently next year than you did this year?

Masta Ace: A big accomplishment for me is finally getting this Doom record out. It's been over a year of planning it and talking about it coming out. That was definitely one of the big accomplishments this year. The other two big accomplishments this year was the tour I did through Canada in March and the tour through Europe in April. I did twenty-two shows in Canada for March and twenty-three or twenty-four shows in Europe for May. Those were two major one month long tours to help set up the release of this record. As far as doing anything diffferently, I don't know if there's much I'd do differently. I liked how things laid out. One month on tour then a month home then back on tour. After that the rest of the summer was spent with my family. That was pretty much a good schedule for me.

Royalty Magazine: Speaking of next year...what can we expect to hear or see from you in 2013? Any upcoming projects, tours or tracks we should be checking for? What's good with EMC?

Masta Ace: I have the re-release of my fourth album Disposable Arts. It came out in 2001 and we're doing the decade anniversary edition. It's being packaged as a collector's edition vinyl box set including three pieces of vinyl, instrumentals and acappellas, a couple songs reworked with a live band, exclusive artwork & photos, and a documentary chronicling the making of the record. All of those things will be packaged into that box set for the fans. We'll also be releasing the original for those who can't afford the box set. 

As far as EMC goes, we'd like to do another record but we have to get our ducks in a row. We all live in different states and the thing that made the last record great was that we were all in the studio at the same time working. We don't want to do it over email. There has to be a time where we can get together and make a nice record. Otherwise it's not worth doing.

Royalty Magazine: What projects are you working on now? Tell us more about the MA_Doom project? Who is involved in it and how did the idea for the project come about? How can people cop it?

Masta Ace: It came about because I got my hands on some MF Doom instrumentals, his Special Herbs instrumental series. I got my hands on those and I drove with them for about a month. As I drove with them I started formulating some ideas for songs. It was that point I decided I wanted to do a mixtape, a free mixtape and release to the fans. It was at that point Phat Beatz Records got involved, they heard about the project. They felt like it should be more of a commercial release so they put up the finances to make it an official commercial release. I went in the studio and put together a cohesive record that has a theme and this was dedicated to the memory of my mother. It features MF Doom and Big Daddy Kane on one song. I got my man Pav Bundy of the Bundys singing a couple of hooks. Another singer by the name of Reggie B is on another hook. Those are all the people who are featured on it. It's available on Amazon, iTunes, and in select stores on vinyl and CD. For the vinyl collectors you got to dig and search out there.


Royalty Magazine: Tell us more about Masta Ace. Can you take us back to the moment when you fell in love with hiphop...what was that feeling like and how did it happen? What pushed you to take that next step with music and make it career?

Masta Ace: The thing is I wouldn't want to over glamorize it. Growing up in New York, hip-hop was what you did. It was what you did as a kid. If you think about the era of video games when they got really popular, no one remembers how it felt to fall in love with video games. It was just the thing to do. And that's pretty much what hip-hop was. Hip-hop was video games before video games. The cool thing to do in the summertime was to go out to the park. Dudes were out there dancing, rapping, deejaying, and writing graffiti. As a kid I ventured into all those things. Eventually I settled on rapping because in my crew I was the best at that.

Royalty Magazine: You got your big break in the late 80's when you made your recording debut on the hiphop posse cut "The Symphony". The track featured yourself, Marley Marl, Craig G, Kool G Rap & Big Daddy Kane. How did the opportunity arise for you to do the track? Did you know then that you would end up being one of the most influential and highly skilled emcees in hip-hop?

Masta Ace: Actually the track was supposed to be Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Craig G, and MC Shan. Shan actually declined to be on the song and Marley just decided it would just have the three MCs on the song instead. Only by virtue of me tagging along to watch the recording process did I wind up on the song. The guys had already written their rhymes but were hesitant to go into the booth. No one wanted to be the first one in the booth. Marley asked to jump on and warm the mic up, get those guys loosened up. I went in and spit a verse I had memorized at the time. That wound up being on the record. I don't think he planned to keep me on when he asked me to go in there, but I guessed he liked my verse enough to keep it. It's because of that decision that people know my name.

Royalty Magazine: Tell us about the Juice Crew. Who were some of the original members and how did yall end up hooking up? How do you feel your crew influenced hip-hop and/or changed the game in general? How did being part of the Juice Crew strengthen or add to your skills as an emcee?
Masta Ace: The original members were Biz Markie, Roxane Shante, MC Shan, Craig G, Kool G Rap, DJ Polo, later on Big Daddy Kane, and myself. Marley Marl, of course, was the producer of all of those acts. Coming up it was a competitive atmosphere. If you wanted to make any kind of impact, you had to go hard. No wackness allowed. Hearing a Kool G verse or a Kane verse made me go in harder and come correct when it was my turn. I think we made the posse hip-hop bigger. Before that time it hadn't been a lot of posse records. Having a collective crew under one name started with us and a lot of crews came out later. To this day that is still pretty big. Maybach Music is an example of that.

Royalty Magazine: The Juice Crew produced many answer records and beefs during its run. What was that experience like? What message were you guys trying to send the world, the industry and other emcees through your music? What are some of your most memorable beefs or rivalries during that time? How has the passing of Mr. Magic affected you as well as the world of hip-hop?

Masta Ace: As far as the beefs you alluding to, there was BDP vs MC Shan, LL Cool J vs. MC Shan. At the time I wasn't signed at the time. I was just a fan at the time, listening to the records. Neither Kane or I inherited any of those beefs that the others had going on. I hadn't met any of these guys until about 1986 so I wasn't that close to Mr. Magic like KRS-One or Craig G was.

Royalty Magazine: From when you first started to now, how has hiphop changed in your opinion? Are you familiar with the term hip-pop? Are you feeling hip-pop at all or do you think it has an impact on watering down the true nature of hip-hop? Do you think rappers have the same heart now as they had back then? Why or why not?

Masta Ace: Honestly, hip-pop has pretty much always existed. There have always been records that were more mainstream and got more airplay than what we considered "pure hip-hop". "It Takes Two", when it first came out wasn't viewed as real hip-hop despite it being seen as classic hip-hop. The same could be said for "Parents Just Don't Understand". Now you can see it as a way to penetrate the ears so as to discover the layers of hip-hop. It's needed sometimes to open the door to hip-hop music for someone.

Royalty Magazine: You are known for having great story telling skills and a master at dropping classic theme albums. What motivates you when it comes to creating a concept for an album and/or track? How important is the relationship between the writer/emcee and the audience when it comes to writing or spitting a verse? 

Masta Ace: My motivation is that I entertain people. I just don't want them to hear something or just a series of songs. I want to transport them, take them where they can see what I'm talking about. I want it to be like a movie. I want them to visually see what I'm talking about. The lyrics, intros, interludes, and skits help create that picture. I would want to make a record I would want to listen to if I were a fan.

Royalty Magazine: Which era of music (past or present) has affected and/or has had the most impact on you as an artist? Please elaborate. Who are some of your influences?

Masta Ace: In the early days, cats like LL Cool J, Rakim were big influences to me. A lot of rap crews from New York were influences as well (i.e. Cold Crush, Furious Five). Those kind of guys, even Kane when he came out, were influences. Each of those guys put a different spin on hip-hop when they came out, what you could do lyrically. Each time I heard one of these artists it helped me to understand the lyrical possibilities and what you could do with hip-hop.

Royalty Magazine: If you had a chance to appear in the BET Cypha, what artists would you team up with? What beat would you want to rock to?

Masta Ace: I don't know what beat I would rock to. I don't know if I'd want to be on there, to be honest with you. I'm going to be straight up with you. Based on what I've been seeing, I don't know that I'd want to be on that. I might actually decline to be on that.

Royalty Magazine: You've worked with the Juice Crew, the Crooklyn Dodgers, the Incorporated Crew as well as EMC. You've also been on a couple different labels during your time. How would you compare crews now to crews back then? With over 20 years in the music industry (under your belt), what are some DO's & DONT's you have learned throughout your career? Any advice to upcoming artists? What would you say to someone who has a vision but has no major label backing or support?

Masta Ace: I think that what you see now is what I would call "stripped down crews". Back then dudes was rolling with eight to ten dudes, trying to put everyone on the album or the album cover. It was about having a posse. That's different now. You don't have the ability to do that now. You may roll with security. They're not trying to brand everyone. It's usually like one or two dudes who get the notice. As far as do's and don'ts, DO NOT take this game lightly. DO NOT get a big head because it ends very quickly. I've seen a lot of dudes come in red hot and leave ice cold. My advice would be to be yourself, be who you are. Don't try to be another artist. Try to figure out who you are and rap about yourself. Be honest. Don't be afraid to say that you're broke.

Royalty Magazine: Any last words, comments or shot outs? Anything you want to touch basis on that we haven't already? Any misconceptions about anything that you would like to clear up?

Masta Ace: Definitely want to shout out M3 Hip-Hop. All my people down with EMC. Wordsworth, Strickland, Punchline, my man Marco Polo, Toure. Anyone who has ever rocked with me. The Bundys, my man Pav Bundy and hip-hop heads everywhere.

Royalty Magazine: How can people keep up with you and/or check out your music? What sites or radio stations can people catch you on?

Masta Ace:, Twitter @mastaace. You can check me out there.

Royalty Magazine: Much Love & Respect. Thank you for your time and thank you for keeping it 100!

Masta Ace: Thank you.

Interview Courtesy of TazDatMC for Royalty Magazine
Transcribed & edited by Lucius Black

No comments:

Post a Comment