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Yungeen Ace has been through hell and back, and his music has been his saving grace. As of recent, South Florida has seen an influx of artists taking over the rap game, and the “Pain” rapper is one who’s paving the way. Signed to Cinematic Records, the Jacksonville, Florida native creates music for the streets and for the people with honest lyrics chronicling the journey of someone who overcame the worst and made it out the hood.
At only 23 years old and having survived a shooting in which three of his friends were shot and killed, Ace pours his heart and soul into the tracks. But, how does he cope with the trauma? By staying busy and working.
While his most recent smash, “Who I Smoke” — which flips Vanessa Carlton’s timeless hit “A Thousand Miles” — may have drawn in new fans all around the world, it also serves as a reminder of Ace’s versatility as a recording artist. From drill to trap to R&B, he can do it all.
Most recently, Ace released his critically acclaimed project titled Life of Betrayal 2X, spearheaded by lead single “Dior” for the ladies. The project itself is an ode to all the betrayal he’s faced in his life thus far, and peaked at No. 8 on Apple Music and No. 119 on the Billboard 200 Album charts.
REVOLT caught up with the rising star at his album release event at Sweet Chick in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss the release of his new project, music being his therapy, quitting cannabis, the success of “Who I Smoke,” King Von being the first person to hear “Dior,” and more!
How does it feel to be celebrating your album? It’s a vibe.
It’s definitely good. I feel good for real, for real. I feel good too because the album’s going too crazy right now. It’s in the Top 10 at Apple Music/iTunes for the last three weeks straight.
Congrats! I hope you took a screenshot of that and sent it to your mom.
(Laughs) On God. My mama be seeing all that shit, my mama loves this shit.
I saw that video of you and her on the Gram, I almost cried.
Everybody says that!
How was it sharing that moment with her? Because you guys really came from the trenches.
That’s what I’m saying, it feels good. It’s like a reward, something uncomfortable. My mama tells me she’s proud of me everyday, she ain’t never told me that. That shit feels good.
What’s her favorite song on the album?
“Adopted Child.” And she likes this song right here, “Giving Up” [playing in the background]. She loves that joint.
She was rapping word for word!
That shit feels good. That shit made me happy as fuck, I ain’t never seen her like that. She’s been coming to the studio with me. She’s in there putting headphones in, sitting there the whole night. I ain’t never told nobody that.
What does it mean to be able to take care of her and the family?
It feels good. I’ve been doing it, though, since I was 14. Now, I put them in a better spot. It’s like that. My mama don’t pay for nothing, I don’t let her pay no bills.
Your debut album LIFE OF BETRAYAL 2X is out now. What’s the meaning behind the title?
My whole life, I’ve been betrayed. Whether it’s family leaving me, people around that I love left me empty-handed or lost. I be there for people but when I need people, they don’t be there. My whole life’s been like that.
How are you holding up with everything?
Everything’s been smooth actually. I try to stay busy so I don’t think too much. When I’m in the studio, I let everything out. Whatever I’m feeling, I let it out. It’s like my therapy.
Did you ever go to actual therapy?
Nah, hell nah. I don’t really like talking to people about my problems, so I wouldn’t even feel comfortable doing that.
I remember when I brought you up to Power 106, I was bumping “Pain.” What were you like then?
I was real, real, real hurt then. I be vibing though so you don’t see nothing. That shit be still fresh.
What do you do for self-care?
I just be in the studio. Other than that, I’ll probably find certain people to kick it with. Everything that I do reminds me of my brothers, so...
You gotta have trauma from that night. How do you cope?
Hell yeah, my PTSD be real bad. My mama be telling me about that. My mom’s my best friend too. I talk to her every now and then. She can’t hold it too much, I don’t need her crying when I talk to her.
Let’s get into “Who I Smoke.” How did that record come together?
Me, Spinabenz, Whop, and Goon walked all up in the studio. We’re drunk, drinking and stuff. Spin had been talking about the beat for three days. He comes on there, Whop gets on there and goes crazy, then I went crazy. Nobody even knew that Goon recorded his part, we’re all laughing and playing. By the time we got done, Goon was done with his verse. He snapped right there, shit was a vibe for real.
How did it feel putting it out and to see it go crazy?
We already knew that bitch was going to be viral. We all knew that shit. That shit changed everybody’s life right there, just that song. I’ve already been doing this shit for three years.
How many people are in your circle?
Probably three, four people. I don’t really vibe with people. I be chillin’, I don’t trust people.
Do you think you’ll ever trust people?
Shit, I don’t know. My shit’s fucked up.
Someone sent me this post about being busy, it said, “What are you running from?” How does that make you feel?
You know that shit puts you in a little place when you do that, all that shit be crazy. That’s why I be to myself.
Does cannabis help you at all?
See, it’s so crazy, I stopped smoking. When I stopped smoking, I had to find something else. That’s why I stopped smoking. I didn’t want that to be every time I eat, sleep, I need to smoke. I just stopped. I don’t do no drugs anymore.
How did you stop?
My mind’s so powerful, I told myself that. Whenever I want to stop something, I stop. That goes with cutting people off, all that shit.
How are you in relationships?
Shit, I still got my bitch. We’ve been together for five years. I’m still with her. I trust her more than anybody.
What’s your ideal date night with bae?
Man, she likes to go to all types of places. She likes to try new food. I like regular shit. I be wanting my shit fast. Really we go out, we have fun. We enjoy each other, enjoying ourselves. That’s what I be wanting to do. Make her smile.
Speaking of, what were you on recording “Dior”?
I recorded that song in Atlanta. Right when Von pulled up, he’s the first person to hear that song. That’s when we made “Hardaway.” Hell yeah, he liked that shit. He be turnt up. That’s so crazy because he had walked in. When he’s walking in, I was finishing the song up. That’s how we played it back. That was the last time I seen him.
How did you handle his passing?
I ain’t gon’ lie to you, that shit was hard on me. That was my boy. Been my boy for real.
What was the energy creating “Hardaway” with Von?
It [was] natural, we [weren’t] forcing it. I go in, he goes in, I go in. I don’t even be in the studio with artists. I don’t really like people. I’d rather send it over, let’s just send it over. I’ve been in the studio with Lil Yachty, That shit was dope. I fuck with Yachty, he’s real different. I’ve been in the studio with Stunna 4 Vegas, Lucci, and Von. That’s it.
How much is a Yungeen Ace feature?
(Laughs) I be telling people go to my manager and see about that. That’s business.
How’d you link with G Herbo on “Choppas 4 My Enemies”?
Oh yeah, Herbo that guy fasho. We were in the studio with Shipes in Atlanta. Shipes called me like, “Oh Herb’s in here...” They said, “Send something over,” so I sent a couple of songs over. He sent that bitch right back, that fast. That shit hard.
What does it mean to be a Black man in America today?
That shit be hard for a motherfucker. The way they gotta be living and feeling, it’s still dangerous. When I make my music, I be speaking for everybody. I hope my music can get across a lot of people. But, if one person takes one thing I say and change, I did my job.
The world’s opening back up. Do you be outside?
Hell no, I only work. I’m antisocial for real. I don’t go to the club unless they paying me. I only work. Even when the quarantine went on, I was still running around shooting videos.
How does it feel to be one of the leading artists coming out of Jacksonville, Florida?
Shit, it feels real good to do that and be one of the ones for real ‘cause Florida being Florida, that shit’s hard. I got a love for everybody who’s still grinding. Hell yeah. Family.