Yungeen Ace has lived through so much trauma in his twenty-three years. Three years ago, the Jacksonville-based rapper was involved in a drive-by shooting, which left him in critical condition. His journey wasn’t meant to end there though — Ace has since recovered from his shooting wounds to become one of the marquee rappers coming out of his city. With the outrageous “Who I Smoke” song and video, Ace kicked off a massive social media wave, rapping violent lyrics over a rather infamous Vanessa Carlton sample, which the pop star actually cleared for the Florida rapper.
As the title of his debut album Life Of Betrayal 2x suggests, Yungeen Ace has experienced a lot of betrayal in his young life. Because of his ongoing feud with several other prominent Jacksonville rappers — specifically Foolio, who has exchanged diss records with Ace — the rapper can’t move around as he wishes. Ace says that he hasn’t been able to perform in his home state because of possible violence, being shut down by promoters and police authorities every time he tries to book a show. Regardless, Ace is thriving right now, shining on his debut album, which features G Herbo, King Von, YFN Lucci, and more.
With his ATK movement becoming more popular by the day, Yungeen Ace is one of the bubbling rappers that you need to pay attention to from Florida. You can learn more about the rapper through his latest feature with HotNewHipHop’s Rise & Grind, answering ten basic questions before jumping into a more personalized Q&A session, which you can check out below.
Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.
Image provided by the artist — Photo credit: tinacphoto
I was born in East Chicago and moved when I was like two or three. Everyone thinks I grew up in Chicago, but I really grew up in Jacksonville.
It was real fun growing up in Jacksonville, but real dangerous looking back at it now. It was so fun then. Right now, I can’t really move how I wanna move. It was real hard, but real fun. I had to grow up kind of early though. I was real young and had to help my mom pay the bills. I have seven brothers on my mama’s side, all of my family were back up north. All of the friends I made down here were my family.
My favorite thing was just being around everybody in the hood, everybody going crazy. We used to run around just doing some wild, fun shit. We had our own little hood where everyone used to pull up and we did whatever.
Hell nah, there weren’t any other rappers coming up from my area. The first person I saw go crazy was Tokyo [Jetz]. She started going crazy, then it was me and [YK] Osiris. Now, I see everybody coming up and I fuck with that. Jacksonville is starting to get the recognition that it needs.
I was born in February, I’m an Aquarius. We big on leadership, we got our own minds and we can make everybody do what we want. We independent and we big on loyalty. Our hearts are bigger than ourselves sometimes. It’s hard to get our heart, but once you got it, you better keep it. Aquarius is the best sign, I ain’t tryna rub it in but you feel me?
They say we crybabies but I don’t know. I don’t think we are. I ain’t really too big on it. All I know is that loyalty, love, and leadership is straight Aquarius. Bosses are Aquarius.
Top 5 DOA:
I ain’t really got no favorite rappers.
I fuck with Drake, ain’t got no top five though. Drake’s a goat, his old shit I really love. There’s a lot of talent, I’m just not really fuckin’ with anybody like that right now. I don’t really listen to other people’s music, I’m trying to perfect my craft. Everybody’s talented though. Rod Wave is dope, for real for real.
Making it out the hood is my biggest accomplishment, for sure. Getting to this spot today is a big accomplishment. Coming from my city, there’s really no inspiration. There was nobody getting big. But now, making a way for anyone else from my city is a big accomplishment. I just wanna see everybody win and eat. I want the whole world to know who Jacksonville is.
Studio Habits & Essentials:
When I go in the studio, I be in my head. I go with my mood. I can’t make music if I’m not in the mood. It’s like a season for me. If March, April, and May I’m feeling pain, then that’s all of the music I’m making.
“Who I Smoke”:
It was really [Spinabenz’s] idea. He had the beat and we were in the studio. He was like to the crew, “Okay you go, you go, you go, and you go next.” That beat is crazy, I just knew from the tempo. Off top, all four of us knew it was gonna be a hit. Then when it went viral on TikTok, that’s when we shot the video. There was supposed to be more to the video. It was gonna be dope, but we only got that one scene in. But, that one scene is all it really took. All of those artists are from Jacksonville too. Spina been putting in that work.
Everybody’s been at the golf course lately too! When I be at Top Golf, people be telling me that they saw the “Who I Smoke” video. I feel like we started [that trend] for today, because everyone is doing it now.
[All of my lyrics] came from the top of my head. Man, I’m telling you this was the funniest video in my life. Just imagine everyone casually golfing. People are enjoying life and it’s sunny outside. Then, you see all of us in the golf cart, bouncing that shit with the music and looking crazy. Some people at the course were feeling it. Some of the workers were chasing us, telling us we can’t be doing this and stuff like that. Shit was fun. If I could, I would do it again.
I’ve been sitting here and watching all of the fan reaction videos and the shit be so funny. When they listen to the song and the sample comes on, the people be looking crazy before the rest of the beat comes in. Seeing some of the fans’ reactions means a lot though.
It was a song called “Stop Stalking Me.” I was rapping into the phone in one hand while recording with one phone in the other. My first time getting into a studio was what really changed my life.
I’ll tell you something no one else probably knows. I had a small show in Jacksonville on 12th Street. My first real show was in Tallahassee, it was after I got shot.
I play the game a lot, I play Warzone. I’m a real COD type of person too. Not gonna lie, I watch like every movie too. Me and my girlfriend go to the movies every day just to watch everything. That’s something else I really wanna do is get into acting and the film industry.
I just seen A Quiet Place 2. Man, that shit is crazy. I loved that movie, I’m tryna see it in 4D tonight.
I’m about to drop my debut album “Life Of Betrayal 2x.” Me and my team put in a lot of work. I put my team through hell with this album. I kept changing the album and single covers. A lot of changing up, we got frustrated. Even through all of the bullshit, they take the time because they really believe in me. I had to add and remove some little features I had. I really love my team, it’s gonna be a dope project.
The song with [King] Von is the last one we recorded together before he passed. We have others, but the one I’m putting on the album was the last one. He was a real friend to me. Me putting him on this album means a lot. [YFN] Lucci, that’s my boy. I sent the track over to G Herbo, he knocked it out, he sent it back. It was dope.
Image provided by the artist — Photo credit: tinacphoto
HNHH: Some people have criticized “Who I Smoke” and feel it’s disrespectful because of the name dropping. Do you have any response to that?
Yungeen Ace: People just need to enjoy the song. There’s always something. I’ll tell you something, people don’t really see just music. If it’s bad music, they’ll talk about it more. If it’s good music, it’s just good music.
Does it take ever a toll mentally?
It’s fucked up how the world is today. I just stay in my own lane. It’s like we only see the bad in people. The internet’s weird.
Vanessa Carlton cleared the sample for the record. Did she know about the song prior to the release?
She ain’t know about it. I fucks with Vanessa! We text and call each other, I really appreciate her clearing the sample. That was really dope of her. I really want to put something together where she plays the piano while we rap to “Who I Smoke.” I had a whole conversation with her and she gave me her whole aspect on everything. She’s a real genuine person and really dope.
What’s your favorite memory of King Von?
That n***a is funny as hell. He just goofy. I knew how close we were from one of my birthdays. I had a little get-together of only people that I fuck with, no one really made it. Von made it though, and from right there I knew that was my dawg for sure. We like real brothers. Everything with him was fun, it was lit every time. Only reason I went to Atlanta was because he was over there. Shit be funny in the studio.
Jacksonville’s rap scene has a reputation for being pretty violent dangerous. Do you feel that or is it only on the outside looking in?
The police won’t even let me perform there, they stop me every time. I asked them if I could go and do a charity performance and the cops wouldn’t allow it. It is real violent there.
What’s going on with the police in Florida? Polo G just got arrested in Miami too.
That shit made me so mad, and I really fuck with Polo G. Him coming up trying to do right, the fact that his arrest happened is lame. They hate rappers. It sounds crazy, but when we do good, they fuck with us and when we do bad, they fuck with us. We really try to move in the right direction. Maybe they just want to see everyone in jail. It’s an abuse of power.
Being in your position where you’re involved in a few beefs, are you fearful at all?
I don’t fear nothing at all. My motto is ‘live today, die tomorrow.’ I feel like I experienced death already. I don’t be out there like that anymore, but I just want what’s best for my city.
Let’s talk about the ATK movement you got going on.
I been doing this shit for a little moment and I’m starting to get real raw with it. I got a record label too.
What’s going on with the record label?
Right now, I’m in the process of getting the building. It’s a studio with a business area and a merch display area.
Congratulations on all of that! It was a pleasure speaking with you today, Ace. Enjoy your movie night later!
For sure, for sure!
READ LAST WEEK’S INTERVIEW WITH YOUNG ROG HERE.