It's easy to put on for your city when you come from LA or NYC. No hate to the City of Angels or the Beast Coast, but those towns have a built-in audience of rabid fans looking for the next big thing. The same is unfortunately not true for most cities on this green planet of ours, and although Denver, Colorado is one of the best-known secrets for a quality music scene, it's not quite considered the mecca for hip-hop, yet. Case and point, one of Denver's brightest, Supreme Ace.
Ace is a special type of artist. More than just a hard worker, Ace understands where he thrives best in the hip-hop market. He's self-aware and determined, a deadly combination. He sees the game for what it is and has no qualms about putting in his time and enjoying the small victories as they come. But make no mistake, he's far from finished. He just recently dropped a collab with OG Maco and Trev Rich entitled, "Overdo" and plans to release his Trill Influence 2 project December 19th.
EARMILK caught up with Ace for a quick chat about how he's managed to build a career in the Mile High City and what the future holds. Peep our conversation below:
EARMILK: Talk to me about being from Denver, and how that has affected your career, be it for better or for worse.
Supreme Ace: Man, being from Denver, there's a lot of good and a lot of bad. It's one of those cities that doesn't have many artists coming out of it, especially within Hip-Hop. It doesn't have that Hip-Hop culture, so we (the artists) have to create it, embrace it and take it upon ourselves to make Denver that type of platform. I guess it's more positive because it's more motivating to do something in a city that doesn't have that culture. Of course, it's tough, it's not the Atlanta's or New York's of the world, but to get to where I'm at now and being from Denver, it's definitely a positive. It's had a good impact on me.
EM: Can you tell me about some things you had to do to overcome when building your career in Denver?
SA: I've had to work twice as hard, and put a light on the city. I have to deliver the material people want to hear and get them to pay attention to Denver. As I said, other artists are making noise here and there, so I'm not going to sit here and take all the credit for my city, but there were some hurdles I had to jump to succeed.
EM: Of course. So let's talk about you for a second. What was the moment where you said to yourself, "Okay, I want to be a rapper?"
SA: [laughs] That's the question. Music has always run in my family, and I've always listened to rap music. I used to write a lot in 2013 and 2014 before I took it seriously, I should say, that's what all rappers say. In 2014 I wrote a lot of material. I didn't necessarily put it out, but I wrote a lot of material and recorded a lot of records. I just had to find my sound and feel if this is what I wanted to do. So, I would just record a lot of tracks and listen to them over and over and find areas where I could perfect my craft. Eventually, I was just like, 'yeah, this is what I want to do, I want to put this record out.' Of course, beforehand, there had to be a motive, and I'd say I was just inspired by Hip-Hop in general.
EM: Are there any artists that you would credit that inspiration?
SA: I'd say, J. Cole. I listened to a lot of Cole.
EM: Do you have a favorite J. Cole track?
SA: I don't have a favorite Cole track, no. It wasn't necessarily Cole's songs but rather the way he did everything himself. From producing and writing his own music, to the whole 'no features,' that's what inspired me. Of course, his music is great, but it was more his work ethic that inspired me.
EM: Ya, he's a real workhorse, that guy.
SA: Exactly. Headling his tours and what not. It wasn't like 'Oh, this song made me want to rap.' It was like 'Oh, the way this person works, makes me want to make music.' I wouldn't say I want to work just like him, but I took a ton of pointers from him. Of course, there's are other artists: Drizzy, Kendrick Lamar and if we're going old school, Hov and Nas.
EM: Speaking of work, I'm assuming you're in your early to mid-20s, how do you stay focused on rap and making that a career? It has to be tough when everyone else is working a 9-5. It's not like you're pulling in a consistent paycheck as an up and coming rapper. How do you stay motivated?
SA: That's right [laughs]. It really comes down to eliminating the distractions. Ultimately, you can't do it by yourself. I have people behind the scenes, from my engineers to people that handle all my press and marketing, which is a huge help. That and really, eliminating distractions. I feel like a lot of artists want it overnight, you know what I mean? Like, snap a finger, and this should happen. A lot of people do music just because other people do it, but you have to want it. And when I say "eliminate distractions," I'm talking about relationships, I'm talking about going out throughout the week and on weekends. I lock myself in the studio and try and write consistently. I write 10 to 12 songs a day. I scratch them; I re-write songs. It's tough. Financially speaking, it comes down to patience. As an independent artist, you can't expect the big checks to come. You have to build up; there are levels to everything. I'm very patient. I've seen some good money from all of this, and of course, I want to see more, but I'm not in a rush. I'm in my early 20s, so I'm not in a rush to see the big dollar signs. You've got to collect the small victories before you get the big victories. And a lot of artists don't know that small victories matter. I'm collecting small victories, man!
EM: I think that's a wise perspective. Certainly, our generation is obsessed with overnight success without the work, but if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.
EM: Let's switch gears a second and talk a bit about your project. You've got Trill Influence 2 coming out this month. Can you tell me a little bit about it? What are you looking to accomplish with it and in what ways does it differ from the original?
SA: Trill Influence 2 is coming out this month. The ultimate goal of this project is growth. Of course, you want to grow from each project you put out. Originally, when I dropped the first Trill Influence, I was going to drop Trill Influence 2 right off the back. But, instead of dropping it then, I did the Something I Put Together project. I wasn't ready to put out Trill Influence 2; it needed more time, focus, energy, and writing so I held off. But mainly, growth. I got deeper with this one. To all my fans who listened to the original, it was my first actual project that I put out. It was that stepping stone that opened a lot of doors for me. It was an introduction. So Trill Influence 2 is the continuation of that. There's going to be three, and I don't want to give too much away [laughs], but Trill Influence 2 is starting to get deep. You'll see a lot of growth from the first to the second.
EM: Do you have a definitive release date?
SA: Ummm no, I wouldn't say I do. It will drop this month, but I can't say when right now. I will say though that it will drop on a good date [laughs].
EM: On your last project, on the song "Pray For It," you insert a snippet of Obama speaking. I think in 2017 it's important to have an opinion on these sort of things, so what do you think of our country right now and specifically, what are your thoughts on the person in charge of it?
SA: [laughs] Man, I'm not the type who's going to judge people by what they're doing, that's not my forte. Obviously, Donald Trump is going to make the decisions that he makes. From a personal standpoint, it hasn't affected me that much yet. I don't follow politics like I used to but I think the decisions that he's made on this country have affected a lot of people and I don't necessarily agree with all of them. I think us artists need to deliver the music and keep hope alive. A lot of people are losing hope with this guy, and a lot of people feel like it's coming to an end with this guy in office. Hopefully, things don't turn out or go down like they seem to be going. But at the end of the day, if I had to tell anyone about this, I'd say, of course, I don't agree with it. We can sit here and chit chat all day, but that doesn't solve anything. It's up to us as artists and people to make the change for the country that we live in. With everyone against Trump, he just can't win, that's just how I see it.
EM: Ain't that the truth. Let me ask you this, it's the beginning of December, what are your goals for 2018?
SA: I want Trill Influence 2 to spark up a lot going into 2018. That needs to set up 2018 for me. I want to tour, I want to work on Trill Influence 3 but mainly, I want to grow. I can't preach that enough. As an artist, the main thing a lot of artists should want is growth. I really don't have any big big big plans, but of course, I want to tour.
EM: Well, that's all I've got for you. In closing, is there anything you want to tell the people reading this interview?
SA: I hope when Trill Influence 2 drops everyone enjoys it. That's mainly it. And for any artists out there, keep sticking to the craft, nothing is going to come overnight. Unless, of course, you get lucky [laughs]. But, nah, keep sticking to the craft, patience is a virtue. You've got to master it, and once you do that, the skies the limit.
*this interview was lightlty edited for clarity