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Young, dynamic and in his own words, ruthless, Antoine “Ace Hood” McCollister is a hometown success. Just barely old enough to buy a drink, the 21 year old had his first taste of success in high school shining on his Broward County Florida football field. In a twist of fate he was injured and saw his NFL dreams shatter, and the window to Hip-Hop open. After a fateful meeting with Florida heavyweight DJ Khaled, Ace Hood’s been relentless in his pursuit to the top, muscling (literally) his way into the Hip-Hop scene. Feeling the pressure to supersede the faltered success of his first album, Gutta, We Da Best’s golden boy sat down to talk with Hip-HopWired about his plans to make his stamp on the game, his mentor and predecessor DJ Khaled and his definition of Ruthless.

HipHopWired: So tell me a little bit about growing up, what was your childhood like?

Ace Hood: Growing up man, either you playin’ ball or you in the streets. I’m actually the first out of my city to make it big and do what I do. In the city we looked up to the big time dope boys, seeing them dudes riding ‘24s and ‘26s, that’s what motivated us. You know with the big money wads, the pretty women, that’s what I grew up looking at. Those are the things I grew up motivated on in a sense. So as I grew older, ball carried me over. I had hopes of going to college, had letters from colleges but ended up getting hurt. Once I ended up getting hurt, I took music out my back pocket. I got with a local label in my city called Dollaz and Dealz and we pretty much got poppin’, we had a lil’ mini buzz. We had a lil’ promotion and stuff and ended up building a single, “M.O.E. (Money Over Everything)”, ended up taking that to Khaled and everything else has been like history.

HipHopWired: Okay so let’s talk about Khaled. Khaled’s been really pivotal in your success. Tell me about the moment you met Khaled and you knew this man was going to be a big part of your success.

Ace Hood: Actually I didn’t even have hopes of getting a record deal. When that situation went down I just wanted to perform at his birthday bash. I went to the station and he had a meeting to go to, so good thing I had my work together. Had the bio poppin’, picture and all that, we put that together in an envelope. Khaled took a look at it and he said he seen something within me that I couldn’t see within me. From then on he said, I’mma give you a call back, I’mma listen to it. So what he did was he actually called back at like 11:30, he called my manager back that night. So he sent me the “I’m So Hood” instrumental and I rapped over that record, ended up turning it in and I’ve been the face of that music and been holding that label on my back ever since.

HipHopWired: Yeah, so you’re working with Khaled. You’re signed to We Da Best music, besides you and your upcoming success, what else can we expect from We Da Best? What else can we expect from the label?

Ace Hood: You can expect me to take We Da Best to another brand, to another height. We gonna build just a bigger brand than Ace Hood, we gone put Ace Hood in magazines, we gone have a clothing line, we gone build our brand. We’re gonna build our company into one of the biggest companies in the world. Sign some of your favorite artists and sign some of my favorite artists one day but we’re definitely gonna keep escalating to the top with our whole We Da Best and Ace Hood brand so at the end of the day, we gone keep going overtime until we at the top and maintain champions.

HipHopWired: Definitely, definitely. So speaking of the best, besides yourself who do you think is the best artist out right now?

Ace Hood: I would say Rick Ross. Not just because he’s part of the camp and he’s family but he makes great music and I’ve seen him grow from each album.

HipHopWired: Speaking of Ross, I know he’s ya boy, I know y’all roll real hard. How do you feel about Ross and his beef with 50 Cent right now? Where do you sit with that? Are you involved with that too?

Ace Hood: At the end of the day one thing about me, Rick Ross is my brother and I’mma always ride for him, no doubt about that. But at the end of the day, I’m a new artist so there are other things that I’m focused on, other things I got my mind frame on and as far as me breaking into being a bigger artist then what I am today. People love to hear good music. Ross got an incredible album. He got the record “Magnificent” out, he got the “Maybach Music,” it’s just good music man. That’s what you like to hear, that’s what I like to hear, that’s what they like to hear. So at the end of the day that’s what it comes down to. Ross my family man and he’s on my album, so we getting it in man. I’mma always be a big fan of his, I’mma ride for him. Ya feel me?

HipHopWired: That’s what’s up. So I noticed you have “Star” tattooed on your hand, when did you know the moment that you were a star?

Ace Hood: When I look in the people’s eyes. I would say the reaction from the fans. The first time someone ever acknowledged me as Ace Hood like you know what, “Ace Hood got this crazy record out right now,”…that’s when I actually was like you know what, I’m a star. When I walk out into an arena and you know thousands of people are screaming for Ace Hood, that’s when I realized I’m a star. When I wake up every day and be like you know what I’m a star, this is what I do. This is what God put me on this earth to do, this is what the people love.

HipHopWired: Definitely, okay. Where have you grown artistically from Gutta to Ruthless? How have you changed and developed?

Ace Hood: I just developed a lot more lyrically, a lot more topic wise as well. Just in general in every aspect I’ve grown more as far as my music. I’m trying to perfect my craft everyday and every hour I get the chance to do it. That was like the introduction of me so on the second album I just made it a lot more personal and I want you to know who Ace Hood is as a person. So I took it a little more personal than the Gutta album with Ruthless.

HipHopWired: So what makes you ruthless?

Ace Hood: Ruthless man, that’s my state of mind man. Ruthless is my life. Ruthless is what I’ve been through. That’s what built my train of thought. Ruthless is just my mind frame as far what I’ve been through in my life. Being doubted man, they said I couldn’t do something, being called stupid for quitting ball, doing music and stuff, as far as the hate and people saying this, and people saying that…that’s what allowed me to build that ruthless state of mind and we gone get it by all means. So my train of thought is ruthless. The way I go hard for the people and the way I go hard on this mic is ruthless. Just my whole mentality, my whole demeanor, is just ruthless. It’s just get it by all means necessary, whether they with us or they not. We stepping on ‘em if they not, that’s just my whole demeanor, my mind frame.

HipHopWired: Okay, final question. What kind of statement do you want to make with Ruthless and where do you see this album sitting among the top rap albums of all time? Where would you put Ruthless?

Ace Hood: I would put Ruthless as the number one album. Not just cause it’s me, because it’s my album. Just cause of the message I’m trying to get out with this album. I mean ruthless is just me, it’s who I am. I got a record on there called “Take a Toast” where I just feel like music is no longer music, it’s a celebration. So at the end of the day it’s more of a personal album. I still got a lot of hood bangers but we still got some records for the women as well. I just gave them my struggles and my grind on this album. That’s what I would say man. This album is a big album.