Masta Ace, born Duval Clear in 1966, was raised by a single mother in Brooklyn. He started writing music in 1978 and has been in the industry since the late 80s. The first record label to sign him was Cold Chillin’ before moving on to Delicious Vinyl, then Big Beats. His fourth solo studio album was released in 2017, showing that age is nothing but a number for this rapper, and he is not slowing down any time soon. As he continues to make waves in the music industry as a record producer, here is more about Ace.
1. He Was the First Artist Signed to Cold Chillin’ to Get Co-Production Credit
Ace told Unkut that he did not know how to work the production equipment. Therefore, after recognizing beats from samples on his mother’s collection, he would take them to Marley Marl, who would add drums and other necessary stuff to make the right sound while Ace rapped. Although this was the norm with most of the rappers signed to Cold Chillin’ Records, none of them got co-production credits until Ace’s first album. For this reason, the other artists were mad at Marl for not giving them credit where it was due.
2. His Favorite Project
Asking a singer to choose a favorite from his many albums is like asking a mother to pick a favorite child. Yet, when Ace was asked to name his favorite project, he did not hesitate to say “Disposable Arts.” According to the rapper, when he made the album, Ace felt he had come to the end of the rapping game. He wanted to leave the industry on his own terms, thinking the album would be his last. However, that project ended up granting him 15 more years in the music industry.
3. He Advises Upcoming Musicians to Make Music Their Plan B
We all know many musicians who have made a killing from their music careers, yet Ace advises anyone interested in pursuing music to have a plan. According to him, music is not stable enough to sustain a person, so people should invest their energy elsewhere. The rapper said that just like in the NFL or NBA, while one person makes it big, most do not.
4. He Values Education
Ace talked to Rap Reviews and disclosed that the women behind him valuing education are his mother and grandmother. While others in his neighborhood chose to go down the wrong path, the rapper decided to focus on his studies. He was a bright student who joined the University of Rhode Island (URI). It was his first time being on his own, and he was one of the few African-American students. Since most Black students were athletes, other students thought he had only joined due to his athletic abilities.
5. The Best Label He Was Signed To
The rapper revealed that being with Delicious Vinyl was the only time he was content with a label. He felt at home with them, knowing he could freely share his ideas on marketing, and Ace loved the collaboration. He knew all the staff members, and whenever he was in Los Angeles, he would go to their office and use their equipment without anyone questioning him. The label is responsible for spawning hip hop artists like Young MC and The Pharcyde, and despite being over three decades old, it is still going strong.
6. He Has Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Ace was diagnosed with MS in 2000. According to HipHop DX, he knew something was wrong when taking a shower in 1999 and got pins and needles sensation. Later, he temporarily lost vision in one eye but did not think the two incidences were connected. When his feet started feeling numb and stayed that way for a week, he went to find out the reason, only to be hit with an MS diagnosis.
7. Why He Kept the MS Diagnosis Private
After the diagnosis in 2000, he kept it a secret. Only his wife and best friend knew for so long until he went public about in 2013. He had stayed for six years without releasing another album and did not want to go public with the news because he did not want the pity. So instead of telling people about it, he took the diagnosis as a sign that he needed to get back in the studio because he did not know what the future held. When he says that “Disposable Arts” was like the end of the road, he was unsure if he would ever make another album.
8. His Contact with Marl was Due to Winning a Rap Contest
The rapper’s start in the music industry was during his second year in College. As he told Passion of the Weiss, he entered a rapping contest and won; the prize was studio time worth six hours with DJ Marl. Over six months, Ace tried reaching the DJ, but he never got through, which led the rapper to believe Marl avoided him. Eventually, he got in touch with the DJ and told him that the local skating rink that had sponsored the contest had paid for six hours of studio time, and all he needed was to record a demo. Unfortunately, even after arranging a meet-up, Marl kept him waiting and put him in a backroom because the DJ did not want to work with him.
9. His Mother’s Death Made Him More Health-Conscious
Although Ace’s mother was healthy, she died at 54, making the rapper suddenly aware of how fragile life can be. He resolved to change his lifestyle and has since taken up more gym training and reduced eating starchy foods. Ace has also reduced his intake of dairy products and has instead increased his protein intake.
10. He Had Given Up on Music in 1998
You may wonder what Ace was doing in the time he was silent before making a comeback with “Disposable Arts. The truth is he had given up on music after his album was shelved, and he did not see the point of putting in so much effort only to have it disregarded. Therefore, he embarked on becoming a music producer. As he told Forbes, he thought he could change how labels worked by becoming a music producer.