Ace Hood

The cards definitely have been dealt in rapper Ace Hood's favor.

The cards definitely have been dealt in rapper Ace Hood's favor.

The first artist signed and released under well known Miami DJ/producer Khaled's We The Best label by way of Def Jam Records, entered the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart 10 weeks ago with his first single, "Cash Flow," off his debut album "Gutta" (Aug. 26). The Runners-produced track, featuring T-Pain and Rick Ross, currently is No. 73 on the
R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and has sold 7,000 digital copies so far, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Hood has played a number of good hands as far as his career goes. Following a football injury in the 10th grade and after realizing he wouldn't be able to go pro, the Miami native began to seriously consider rapping as a career. "I would go to football practice and think of music. My mind was in the studio, not on the field," says the 19-year-old rapper.

So Hood teamed up with a local group and released a single titled "M.O.E." in 2006. He also began promoting himself via open mic events and talent shows around town. "I was grinding," says Hood. "I was putting together little compilation CDs and distributing them myself in the streets."

Late last year, the hard work paid off. At the behest of his manager, Hood staked out the front of the offices of Miami hip-hop station 99 Jamz in hopes of running into Khaled, who mixed a show there. As luck would have it, Hood bumped into Khaled as he exited the building and gave him a bio and a copy of his demo. "I thought he was going to toss it [the CD], but I prayed and hoped he'd listen and would call back," confesses Hood. "That same night, Khaled called my manager and told him he loved my hunger and my image."

But Hood had to pass one final test. Khaled sent over a copy of what was soon to be released as his next single, "I'm So Hood," and asked Hood to rap over the music, just to get a sense of what he'd sound like over the beat. "He wanted to hear me on a big record, and so I ripped it down and he loved it," Hood explained about his performance. "A couple of weeks later, I was signed to We the Best. A couple of weeks after that, we were signed to Def Jam."

Now, Hood is prepping the release of his debut album, which also features Trick Daddy, Plies, Flo Rida and Akon. DJ Nasty, Cool and Dre and Gold Rush lend their production efforts. The title track, featuring Daddy, will be the follow-up single and is set to be released next month.

Other songs on the set include the metaphoric "Collection Plate," the swagger-full "400 Degrees" and the territorial track "We Here (Dunn Dunn)." Hood also released the mixtape "Ace Won't Fold" this week. In addition, he is featured on the first single to DJ Khaled's next album, "We Global Now," titled "Out Here Grinding," alongside Lil Boosie, Lil Wayne, Akon, Rick Ross, Plies and Trick Daddy.

"It's such a blessing to me, that's all I can say on it," says Hood. "To be signed to We The Best and under a major label like Def Jam at just 19-years-old... I'm simply honored to be in this situation."