Nestled at the top of Ace Hood‘s bucket list are dream activities like scuba diving and skydiving. So when it came time for him to ring in his 30th birthday, Ace decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of skydiving and walked away with a lesson on “letting go.”
“It was liberating and amazing, so amazing,” he tells Billboard over the phone. “It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But I felt I wanted to go into my 30th birthday just no-holds-barred, as fearless as possible, inspired. My girl surprised me with it. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, something that I kept telling myself I was going to do but never really got around to it. There’s never a “good time” to face your fears — half the battle is showing up — but I felt at peace, calm, and inspired. What is fear, for real?”
Ace Hood’s new project Trust The Process II: Undefeated, out now, is all about celebrating that new chapter of his life: Fueled by burly trap earworms and Hood’s energetic flow, the 29-track effort bends and morphs across different styles with ease. Lyrically, the project finds Hood exploring his constant desire to strive for greatness while making sure to count his blessings on tracks like “Be Calm” and “Guess Who.” Below, Billboard caught up with Ace Hood to discuss the making of his new project and how he stays optimistic.
Happy Birthday! You open the project with a recording of your daughter singing “Happy Birthday,” and you’re releasing the project on your birthday. How does it feel looking back at all you’ve accomplished in life and in your career?
I feel good. I’m blessed. I’m grateful for the lessons, being able to provide for my family for all these years. I’m thankful for the opportunity to create content people love from all across the world. But mainly, [I’m grateful] for the obstacles I went through in life because ultimately, they made me a better person. I’m excited about where I am right now and feel like I’m officially a grown man. [Laughs] I’m in the greatest shape of my life, and I’m in a better mind frame.
Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
Nope. I think my journey was chosen for me and was catered to me [so I could] learn my lessons the way that I have. I wouldn’t change it for anything, because if I remove one thing, the narrative of everything changes.
The last time we spoke, you had just released Trust The Process after stepping away from music for a bit. With this second installment, Trust The Process: Undefeated, where are you picking up?
So the first one was the re-introduction as an artist, transitioning from being this commercial artist to just [being] a more holistic person and my fans accepting me for that. Trust The Process: Undefeated is just me living more of that glory and expressing myself even more. The project is still powerful, fun — not too serious, but still motivating and encouraging. It’s just being unbreakable.
On “Undefeated,” you say that the meaning of the word runs deeper than just rap. What does being undefeated mean to you especially?
It means refusing to ever quit on a spiritual level. I’ve taken physical losses and endured obstacles in the game, but the most important thing about me and why I’ve been able to be in a great space is because I’ve never allowed any of the outside shit to get to me or stop me from doing what I need to do in any circumstances or in any case. I’ve always been a “by any means necessary” type of person, so this is just me sending a message to never quit. We haven’t taken losses but spiritually — I’m unbroken, unbothered [and] undefeated.
What do you do in those moments when you do feel defeated?
Affirmations. I’m usually always checking in with myself, like, “Are these thoughts that you’re feeling real?” Ultimately, when I do have that conversation, I realize that [those] thoughts are not rational at all. For me, meditation and self-work helps me to calm down and ease my mind and stay as centered as possible. I have to make a decision to just be happy because there are ways that I could deal with it.
How soon after Trust The Process did you start on this album?
Immediately. I recorded some of these songs on the Trust The Process Tour while I was traveling. On the project, you’ll be able to hear me say “3 a.m” and “4 a.m” here because I bounced around LA, NY, ATL. The Trust The Process Tour happened around October and November, so that’s when I got started recording. I recorded about 40, 50 songs while on that tour, then from January to the middle of February this year so I just chose from there. In total, I probably had about 70 records and just chose 29 to use on Trust The Process 2: Undefeated.
What was the vibe you were going for with this album?
I wanted to do something different at first, but then I decided to keep everything under the same umbrella because I’m still telling a story, and it’s important that I continue to reinforce the story of who I am now to my supporters as opposed to who I used to be. So I came up with “Undefeated” a little later down the line, but I still wanted the project to be a little bit more energetic and harder.
Did you link up with Foreign Tech again?
Yeah, I linked up with Foreign on a couple of tracks this time, like “Right On” and “Tango.” But I also worked with some young producers like Key Lo. I always like to go into a project with different production, and I wanted it to match my personality, which in most cases comes off as if I’m a serious guy. Nut I’m very light-hearted, playful, and naturally happy, so that’s exactly what I wanted to give the people.
You kept it at home for the features with Florida rapper Slim Diesel appearing on the project three times.
Slim had traveled with me during the Trust The Process Tour, so it was all about energy, and he came up with some dope ideas. We did “Right On” right here in Miami, so the energy was right. We were bouncing ideas off of each other. He delivered right.
To celebrate your 30th birthday, you went skydiving. How was that experience?
It was liberating and amazing, so amazing. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. But I felt I wanted to go into my 30th birthday just no-holds-barred, as fearless as possible, inspired. My girl surprised me with it. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, something that I kept telling myself I was going to do but never really got around to it. There’s never a “good time” to face your fears — half the battle is showing up — but I felt at peace, calm, and inspired. What is fear, for real? I didn’t want to leave until I did what I went there to do, and it was an incredible experience. The lesson there was “letting go,” and that’s the way I want to enter my 30s.
So yesterday I went skydiving (1 of the most amazing moments I’ve ever experienced. Yes I was scared shitless! Lol But I was not going to allow my Fears to to talk me out of it. Long story short I FUCKING DID IT! I’m so grateful, blessed and proud of myself. What a way to enter my 30th Birthday which is Friday but we Lit all Month! FYI. Thank you @theshelahmarie for this nerve wrecking surprise and also @willsmith for the Inspiration! #TTP2UD #TaurusGang #FaceYourFear