A Conversation With Ace Hood On His New Project, His Artistic Transition & The Value Of Happiness

“I think people are waking up and understanding what’s valuable out here in the world.”

(AllHipHop Features) Antoine “Ace Hood” McColister rose to Hip Hop prominence as the protégé of DJ Khaled known for delivering club bangers like "Hustle Hard" and “Bugatti.” Ace Hood is no longer under Khaled’s We The Best umbrella, and he has purposely shifted his musical concentration from illuminating opulence to exhibiting introspection.

The Deerfield Beach-raised emcee returned in August with Trust The Process. McColister opens the 13-track collection by asking the listener: “If I give you all of me, would I get all of you?” - letting us know the Floridian is not only about to share his personal thoughts, but he’s also requesting we use his words as motivation to reflect on our own perceptions and emotions.

In my one-on-one conversation with Ace, the Hood Nation label founder delves even deeper into the concept behind Trust The Process. He also explains his progression as an artist and as a human.

AllHipHop: Are you still living in Florida? Were you affected by the hurricane?

Ace Hood: Yeah, I live in Florida. I’m always going to be a Florida boy. I stayed through the hurricane. We had power outages in my neighborhood where we were for about a day. A lot of big trees were lifted up but there wasn't too much crazy damage, thank God.

AllHipHop: Let’s get into the project. Can you explain your thoughts behind the title?

Ace Hood: I’ve always been a man of faith. For anything I’ve done in my life, God has always been at the forefront when it comes to decisions. So for me, it’s always been about trusting what’s happening around me and keeping faith that things will work out for the better. For my career and for obstacles I’ve been dealing with in my life, I have to trust the process.

It was about trying to find a title that represented where I am, where I came from, and where I’m going. Trust The Process was just the perfect title for anybody in a situation that believe things are going to work out and who just trust that path, trust that journey, and trust themselves enough to be able to pull themselves out of that.

AllHipHop: I noticed that you limited the features. Was there a particular reason why?

Ace Hood: It’s my story. I wanted it to be as true to me as possible. I just really wanted to get across to people, not only to highlight my creative side, but to also show them my lyrical side and show them my songwriting side. The old stigma placed on me before was I always have features. So for me, it was to mainly show the fans that I’m more than well capable of always holding my own on any record.

The deluxe version has two features on it, but just with the people I have real relationships with, not industry relationships. People that I got love for who are up-and-coming. But I just wanted to get my story across.

AllHipHop: You mentioned the word “stigma.” Do you feel like the industry or consumers placed you in a certain box musically?

Ace Hood: I think they tried to at some point. People are used to seeing me a certain way, seeing me with Khaled. You know, everything’s large with the cars, clothing, and jewelry - the lifestyle. I can understand that. I was implemented into a system, so I think for a while the fans tried to box that in. What I wanted to show on this project is that I can’t be boxed in.

My whole transition from where I was before to where I am now was to relieve myself of all stigmas and be a free, independent artist. That was really my main focus. The artist that I am is about not wanting to be boxed in, but I saw my history going to a place where people expected me to talk about this thing and only this thing. But I feel like we’re slowly transitioning people into seeing things in a very different manner and seeing me in a very different light.

AllHipHop: You don’t necessarily refer to Trust The Process as a mixtape or an album.

Ace Hood: It’s a project.

AllHipHop: Do you plan on dropping an official studio album?

Ace Hood: Absolutely. I want to connect with the people a lot more - being that this is a new energy with a more laser-focused direction. It’s all new, so I think it’s important that we work the people into that slowly, letting the people know I’ve grown tremendously, but haven’t totally forgotten who I was or where I’ve been.

That part of me still very much lives as well as the new Ace that lives in me now. In order to do that, I think it takes Trust The Process and a few other projects for them to start getting on board and knowing what’s happening. Then when the time is right, we’ll drop a studio album.

AllHipHop: You’ve talked about this being a transition for you. How have your longtime fans responded to that?

Ace Hood: They responded tremendously. It’s not a full transition. I’m a more focused individual than I was before. I’ve always made the records that could move people like "Hustle Hard" and “We Outchea,” cool records like “Bugatti.” I think now it’s I’m able to focus that in and not be all over the place.

Records that I probably wouldn’t choose as singles before, I would choose them now. Because I’m bringing to the forefront this whole human thing. People are coming along very well with it which I’m very happy about.

AllHipHop: Speaking of “Bugatti,” that’s one of your biggest hits. Future and Rick Ross are on there. You’ve worked with Ross a lot throughout your career. You talked before about how you wanted to limit your features to people that are close to you. I was wondering what is your relationship with [Ross] like now because you guys have had that long history of collaborating?

Ace Hood: At this point, we have a mutual love and respect for one another. I don’t talk to Ross as often as I have done in the past. But if I see him, it’s all love. Dealing with the situation I was dealing with, I think things kind of got a little different which is normal. But it’s love and it’s always going to be love.

AllHipHop: Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a lot of artists from Florida emerge on the national landscape. With you being one of the most successful rappers to come out of that state, what are your thoughts about the Hip Hop culture in Florida, particularly South Florida, right now?

Ace Hood: I think it’s in a very different space. I think it’s in a very interesting space, to say the least. I just think that it’s interesting to see how the times have changed, where it’s leading, and where it’s gone at this point. In my mind, anybody that has an opportunity to feed their family and loved ones, I salute you. More power to you. But I think it’s in a very, very different space.

AllHipHop: We've talked about the project. You have a deluxe version and maybe an album coming in the future. Are you planning to do any videos?

Ace Hood: I’ve been shooting visuals as we speak. I’m planning on shooting a majority of the visuals off Trust The Process. Just because I want my fans to not only be able to feel the music, but I want them to see it and understand my thought process and ideas behind all these records. So a bunch of visuals are coming soon off of the project.

AllHipHop: Will this be an actual visual project? Are all of the videos going to be connected in a story?

Ace Hood: Yeah. They can expect like a short film.

AllHipHop: You’re very open about your life on social media. Have you ever thought about transitioning from the internet to doing reality TV with your family?

Ace Hood: No.

AllHipHop: That was pretty definitive. [laughs] That was really straightforward. You didn’t even think about it.

Ace Hood: [laughs] Yeah, that was pretty straightforward. It’s so funny because anybody who tries to involve me in that - because we get calls about it - I’m always like, “Nope.” I just have nothing to say after that. It just isn’t me, isn’t us. It isn’t what me and my woman are trying to represent. It’s not what I want for my family.

I don’t need to promote my life for any type of financial gain. My lifestyle is kind of like a “take me how I am” type thing. The closest I would get to that is acting and doing TV in other ways. I don’t necessarily even support reality TV, so for me to be apart of it wouldn’t be authentic to who I am. I ain’t that type of guy. I’m not built for the drama and people lying. I live a very different life, thank God.

I wouldn’t be interesting enough for reality TV. [laughs] People want drama, negativity, and commotion. People want all that, and I ain’t got nothing but love. We deal with all our sh-t with love.

AllHipHop: But you would be interested in doing scripted work like a TV show or film?

Ace Hood: Definitely, when the time is right. I want to branch off into acting, modeling, and owning cologne lines. I’m a huge cologne connoisseur. I’m definitely the type of person who wants to be universal. I’m going to be all across the board when it comes to branding myself. Acting is definitely one of the key components that I want to tap into at some point in my life.

AllHipHop: I noticed you sent out a tweet where you said, “Happiness is the new rich.” Can you just expound on that thought?

Ace Hood: I think people are starting to wake up more. People are investing in themselves a lot more. That’s what I mean. It’s not from a financial standpoint. It’s just evaluating what’s important to you and to nourish and put life into that. Because happiness is the purest form of love - whether that’s love with yourself, love in a job that you love doing, love for your partner, or whatever it may be.

Granted people would say, “That’s coming from a person who’s rich.” It isn’t that because I actually found it’s less about the money. My true happiness started to come when I invested more in myself. I was able to be a happy person and love what I’m doing as opposed to looking for outside validation.

I think people are waking up and understanding what’s valuable out here in the world. Being happy is amazing, and I think that’s true richness. Being happy looks like taking care of yourself, being healthy, representing yourself well. People can have all the money, but I’m centered, strong, and healthy. To me, that’s true richness.

Purchase Ace Hood’s music on iTunes. Stream his music on Spotify, Tidal, and SoundCloud.

Follow Ace Hood on Twitter @Acehood and Instagram @acehood.