When hip-hop fans heard “Who I Smoke” for the first time, they couldn’t resist bobbing their heads to the outrageous pop sample used by Florida rappers Spinabenz, Whoppa wit da Choppa, Yungeen Ace, and FastMoney Goon. The Jacksonville rap quartet released the music video for the track, which samples “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton, and they knew right away that the song would go viral.

The track and the video have been the latest success for Yungeen Ace, who recently caught up with HotNewHipHop for the latest edition of Rise & Grind. During his interview, he spoke about the song’s success, the criticism it has received by fans saying the rappers crossed a line with their disrespectful lyrics, and how he managed to clear such a popular sample.

Image provided by the artist — Photo credit: tinacphoto

Off top, all four of us knew it was gonna be a hit,” said Yungeen Ace, agreeing that they might have started a recent trend among rappers to rework cheesy pop songs as samples. “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.”

With such a strong reaction to the song, Ace remarked that he’s been watching all of the fan reaction clips on YouTube. “I’ve been sitting here and watching all of the fan reaction videos and the shit be so funny,” he said. “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.

When asked about how he responds to the fans criticizing the song as too disrespectful, Ace said, “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.”

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As for how he managed to get the sample cleared from Vanessa Carlton, Ace revealed that he’s actually developed a strong friendship with the pop star. “She ain’t know about [the song before we released it.] I fucks with Vanessa,” he said. “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.

Read our full interview with Yungeen Ace for Rise & Grind here.