Masta Ace – One of Hip-Hop’s Unsung Heroes

Hip-Hop Pioneer & Juice Crew Alum Masta Ace Talks New Album,
The Falling Season

After making his storied recording debut on arguably the art form’s greatest posse record to date, “The Symphony,” a standout classic track that first appeared on Marley Marl’s 1988 LP, In Control, Volume 1 [Cold Chillin’], pioneering Juice Crew alum and veteran emcee/producer Duval Clear aka Masta Ace has rightfully earned a much deserved place in the annals of not only Hip-Hop in general, but, and it goes without saying, American pop culture as a whole. Although the University of Rhode Island graduate, who hails from Brownsville, Brooklyn, has come a very long way in his nearly thirty year tenure in the music industry, the 49 years young “Born to Roll” [West Coast remix of “Jeep Ass Niguh”] lyricist is definitely still considered to be one of rap’s truest unsung heroes…

We caught up with the emcee for an interview to talk about what he’s been up to, his new album The Falling Season, state of Hip-Hop and much more.

Parlé Mag:  Let’s hop right into your latest solo LP, The Falling Season — Conceptually, what does this title represent both to and for you?

Masta Ace:  The album title represents the age where young people are presented with challenges that are very difficult to manage. The choices we make during this age period will potentially alter the direction of our lives. The wrong choices lead us down one path, and the correct choices give us a different trajectory. The opportunities to make the wrong decisions for inner city youth – like I was – are plenty… make the wrong choice and you FALL.

Parlé Mag:  How does The Falling Season either differ and/or compare to previous Masta Ace efforts?
Masta Ace:  This album is more non-fiction based and the most autobiographical of my albums. Where as Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer are fiction themes based on some actual events, TFS is the opposite. It’s mostly true and actual events with some fiction mixed in for effect and humor.

I’m rarely mentioned by most Hip-Hop fans when you ask them to make a list of their favorites. That fact alone has fueled me for the last 15 years. -Masta Ace

Parlé Mag:  The Falling Season comes courtesy of M3 Macmil Music — Now is this your very own indie imprint? And if so, who all, besides yourself of course, currently makes up the company roster?
Masta Ace:  
The M3 roster is myself and eMC, which is my group featuring myself, Wordsworth and Stricklin.


Parlé Mag:  Longevity, what do you attribute yours to?
Masta Ace:  
Feeling like I still have something to prove. I’m rarely mentioned by most Hip-Hop fans when you ask them to make a list of their favorites. That fact alone has fueled me for the last 15 years.


Masta Ace
Parlé Mag:  
With that being said, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you yourself, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Masta Ace:  The digital age has changed music forever. Social Media has changed the relationship between Artist and Fan forever. Both have brought some GOOD to the game, but I think there are equally as many negatives that have come along with those technologies.


Parlé Mag:  What do you feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?
Masta Ace:  
I offer storytelling at the highest level. I offer albums that sound more like books. I offer a perspective that most artists are afraid to venture into… being real and honest about who I am.


Parlé Mag:  Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career?
Masta Ace:  
The only problems have been from fickle fans who abandon you once your songs aren’t in regular radio rotation. I’m thankful that a good many of my fans have rode with me throughout my career and continue to do so. It’s unfortunate that so many have missed the journey. I have people to this day who say things like, “Yo, that “MUSIC MAN” was my Shit! When you dropping something new…?” It’s like they missed 20 years of Hip-Hop.

Parlé Mag:  What do you want people to get from your music?
Masta Ace:  
Entertainment. Inspiration. Motivation. Nostalgia. Emotions. Determination. Education.


Parlé Mag:  On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip-Hop? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
Masta Ace:  
I’m happy there are young new artists that are doing GREAT music and keeping the culture alive. Of course there will always be some that are less skilled but still have fans. But, that has been the case ever since Vanilla Ice went Platinum. I don’t actually NEED to fit into what’s going on… I have my fan base and they are loyal.


Parlé Mag:  Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Masta Ace:  
Absolutely! I have a TV Pilot I have been writing, as well as a screenplay. I’m also in discussions with a Theater Company called RHYMES OVER BEATS, about turning my story from ALHS into a stage play.

Parlé Mag:  If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Masta Ace:  
I would say Hopsin… because he reminds me of myself many years ago.  And Joyner Lucas, he’s SUPER talented with a great imagination.

Parlé Mag:  If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Masta Ace:  
I would love to rock at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN… just cause it’s the hometown.


Parlé Mag:  One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
Masta Ace:  
“TAKE A WALK” defines me pretty well…  it combines storytelling, humor and flow nicely… over a KNOCKIN’ BEAT I must add.


Parlé Mag:  Lastly, what’s been up with your brethren, the Juice Crew? How often do you get the chance to catch up with your friends and former musical colleagues; Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shanté and Kool G Rap? I also know there have been talks of a biopic being in the works for quite some time now — Any word yet on the movie?
Masta Ace:  
No movie talks that I am aware of.  I speak to Kane and Craig G fairly regularly. I can reach Biz, Kool G, Shanté if I need to.


Parlé Mag:  Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
Masta Ace:  
My “YOUNG BLACK INTELLIGENT” video. The verse tells my truth!

Watch Masta Ace – Y.B.I. (Young Black Intelligent) Feat. Pav Bundy & Chuck D. Below:

Photo Credit zoefotografie


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Todd Davis

Veteran music journalist and indie publicist Todd Davis, who hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, and has contributed to a variety of national, regional, online, weekly and daily media outlets; including The Source, XXL & Billboard, to name a few, is happy to report that he has recently joined the Parlé Magazine family. Looking forward to many great things to come...

Todd Davis has 105 posts and counting. See all posts by Todd Davis


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