Ace Ha is a musicians, musician. Clocking over 20 years in the game, he’s developed a deep affinity and understanding of the art and become a true scholar of the Gold School era of Hip-Hop. It shows in his production. Ace a.k.a The Album Cut king, has a funky style, heavy on instrumentation and he can construct a track with every note being original a la Dr. Dre style, and he also has a mean sample game, but only applies it strategically, as to make every track undeniably his. Ace says,
The whole point of the digging / flipping beat culture is not just to find an obscure sample, but to flip an obscure sample UNIQUELY.
After moving to L.A. from Indiana in 02′, Ace was signed to EMI imprint 2KSounds with the hip-hop group MaddWest. After that venture he went on to work with Geffen, American Idol, Rock Mafia, Prima J and many others. He’s currently live on the L.A. Dj circuit and recently contributed to the soundtrack to the feature film Straight Outta Tompkins by director/actor Zephyr Benson.
Most recently, Ace has teamed up with one of the most characteristic and on point emcee’s out there-Scrub, from Missouri’s Farfetched artist imprint. The duo’s styles blend perfectly and they are currently working on an album. We are debuting the first single “Sunny Lane” exclusively today. I recently got a chance to pick Ace’s brain and ask Scrub about the new music.
Ace, How does your production process go?
I use Reason 8 and Maschine 2 exclusively.. Maschine for the drums and softsynths and Reason for the sampling and sequencing.. shit is lovely between the two. As far as the actual process, it depends on what I’m looking to do. If I’m working for a client that needs sample-free material for major-label deals, soundtracks, scoring and so forth, I start with the softsynths and try to build a theme. If a client needs something a little more street-level like mixtapes, shows or exclusive remixes, I start and end in Reason, cutting up samples and breakbeats.
So really, my process has everything to do with the economics of the given project. If I’m doing shit for myself or unsigned compadres, it’s a mix of both, generally. I ALWAYS start with the drums, though; that’s a must. Most of my work is based in hip hop, and with rap, you cannot have weak drums. A lot of cats regard drums as an afterthought, and that shows in their work. We recently got a chance to pick Ace’s brain and ask Scrub about the new music.
What do you look for in a beat?
First and foremost, I need the work to feel like it’s unique in some way. I get really bored of beats that sound cookie-cutter. Trap is killing me that way, so is the played out auto-chop “boom bap” I’ve been hearing lately. I came up in the old days, so biting another man’s style is strictly verboten. If a client is looking for a beat in style of so-and-so, they needn’t come around my sector.
I’m not interested in doing a renditions of another producer’s work; not even for scratch. At least not the kind of money that a copy-cat artist is likely to spend! So originality is big on my list.
I’m also into having some movement in a track. Occasionally something will come down the line that is so good you don’t mind listening to it loop over and over, but that’s rare to me. I can’t even remember the last time I thought that type of shit was appropriate.. “Ante Up” by MOP, maybe.
What’s the weirdest thing you have sampled?
That’s real difficult for me to pin down, actually. I’ve sampled a LOT of shit in my time. No matter how weird a musical recording you sample, it will never be as weird as some field recordings will be. I sampled a friend’s baby once and ran that shit backward. It came out sounding really spooky, and I built up a spooky track around it. You would never guess that it was a baby, so probably that.
Who’s some of your favorite bands?
If you mean hip hop, it’s gonna be the same ones that have always been for me. De La, Outkast, Three 6, Beasties, Tribe.. you know what it is. If you mean “band” bands, Black Keys, Neon Trees, Royal Blood, The Blue Dawns, The Kills and The Dead Weather. I likes my shit DARK.
What projects are you working on?
I’m Still working on an album with STL’s own Scrub, just finished work on a new J Toth joint, too. I get a lot of one-shot work on people’s albums, but most of the cats can’t afford a whole album of my beats. It’s nothing personal on them, strictly business; this is what I do for rent (and my LA rent is $2,000 a fucking month), and they understand that.
I’m also working on an album of remixes that I’d like to have out by summer, but it’s slow going with all the work I do on other cats’ joints. I’ve been working on my live beat / DJ sets, too; should have an ill live show ready for summer. Just did some work on a movie due out in March called “Straight Outta Tompkins,” directed and starring Zephyr Benson, Robby Benson’s son. That’s one chill motherfucker.
Aside from that, I do journeyman production / drum-programming in some of the studios out here just to help with the bills. Shit generally ends up on some pop nonsense that I don’t wanna talk about!
Where can we find your beats for sale?
ProducedbyAceHa.com. I have beats up there for lease, and they’re pretty damn reasonable. In general, up-and-coming artists aren’t in a position to afford exclusive rights to my beats, but I’m always down to sell them if the price is right. I only do shit for free if I’m doing a joint project with someone I really believe in, and usually only one person at a time. Right now, and for the forseeable future, that’s Scrub.
Scrub, you and Ace have an undeniable musical chemistry. What made you want to work with him?
Working with Ace is a no brainer, it was more about convincing him to work with me. He’s the true producer that understands structure, mixing, emotion, recording, cadence – everything. There’s only so many people out there with as much experience and knowledge as Ace has and the puts him in the upper echelon of producers, period. He produces so many anthems it’s astonishing. I don’t normally work outside of my established circle but Ace and I clicked instantly and he’s really inspired my work.
We’re excited to world premier the new single “Sunny Lane” here today. Can you tell us what this track is about?
This track touches on the widespread drug abuse in our society, particularly amongst the privileged. One of America’ dirtiest secrets – most people are getting high, but only the poor are persecuted for it.
Without further delay.