How did you put Acey and the Lonely Ones together?
It kind of came together really naturally after my last record When Lightning Strikes. We just found a place where we needed to take it. We needed to take it there because it hadn’t been done. We used a lot of the older influences of early rock and roll and early funk and doo-wop and stuff like that just to make a new sound.
Doo-wop and rock was a major theme of the album. How did you come up with the idea to use doo-wop and rock as a theme for this album?
I don’t know. I mean, I try to round out my catalogue and what I do for my own personal sake. I know that may be a little bit selfish but I cover certain territories and then I come back around and I cover it again. That’s what I try to do each time. I made records where I’m rhyming my heart out with over-the-top lyricism. I look at it like I’ve done a lot of that. Now let your musicianship take hold of how creative you can be and just take things to different levels and different things. I want to look back at the end and just have a real colorful catalogue and not just the same record remade.
Are you happy with how fans are receiving your genre-themed albums, like the reggae-themed When Lightning Strikes?
I don’t think they do. I don’t think they do. If I calculate it the way I see it, I always lose a couple and gain a couple at the same time. I’m sure a lot of artists have this but I have people who say the first or second album is the shit. I’ve gotten to the point to where people are going backwards because they don’t know about that shit and they just like me for working with RJD2. It just kind of goes all over the place. I know it’s kind of hard to please a fan’s mind because the more passionate they feel about it, the less they want it to change and the more they want it to stay in that same level. I understand that but as an artist I’m trying to grow and do things differently. I’m not trying to do the same things over and over. I would say it’s 50/50. I know some people that are into it but I know that stay away from anything that’s outside of the box.
How did you find the doo-wop and rock samples influencing your lyrics?
The whole thing as a lyricist, it challenged me. The rhythm and the beat, there’s no one beat that makes hip-hop music. There’s no one beat. Some of the songs are fast, like “Can’t Hold Back.” It’s a real up-tempo song. B-boys, we break to that. We used to break to that and do all of that. Different kind of swing rhythms have been done before. The rhythms belong to the universe and that’s what I base everything off of. You can’t tell me that this is a hip-hop beat and this ain’t. Certain elements to me bring out hip-hop, like the heavy drums and the sound and the texture of it. I think the rhythms belong to the universe and as a lyricist, I want to explore the universe. I’m not saying I’m going to do a record with classical music but I’m saying for the most part, with drum rhythms and the way rhythms can swing around, that’s what I’m into and if I could put lyrics and myself and what I do as an artist in that, I think that’s an accomplishment for me.
How did you work with your producer Bionik on Acey and the Lonely Ones?
Bionik is a masterful producer. I’m an idea man and he is too as well but he’s one of the few people that I can talk about an idea with and we can execute it the proper way. This whole thing kind of started off with us just doing music and talking about ideas. We were talking about what we wanted to do and what would be dope and him taking it to the next level after we had those conversations is how it came together.
He kind of hit it almost there and then we would just go in the studio and take it from there. Lonely Ones, oddly enough, is a continuation of When Lighting Strikes. We were trying to take hip-hop out of the blue and no disrespect to any of the foundation but there is other things and that’s what makes an artist grow, when he goes to different places. When I work with Bionik, he’s the one that can execute it. We were into it immediately. There was no kind of, ‘Oh, that wouldn’t be dope. Forget about it.’ We just kind of went with it and he’s a good dude to work with. I haven’t done two albums with anybody. I work with one producer and I still will and this is back-to-back because he did my last album and the fact that I’m looking for different sounds when it comes to different records, I was able to work with him two albums in a row and he gave me two different sounds.
What do you like better, working with one producer on an entire project or working with a variety of producers on one album?
Well, I don’t know what the majority did but I know that my career started off early working with a lot of different producers and for my second album I wanted to go solid with one cat. That’s when I started working with Mumbles and did A Book of Human Languages. But since then I’ve only worked with four or five independent producers and before that I wanted to balance it out and start doing stuff with one cat. And I ended up doing Hip-Hop and the World We Live In with Elusive and then Magnificent City with RJ. I don’t know. I’m kind of coming back around the circle but I do like working with one producer because it’s solid and it’s easier to concentrate on ideas. But in no way do I dislike working with a lot of producers. I just have to set my mind frame up for that and the last couple of times I’ve been in the steady mind frame of getting it done with one producer instead of trying to stick people’s music together. Of course I’m going to go back to that. It will probably be my next record.
How are you, as an MC, able to adapt to so many different producers’ styles and still make good music?
This is the fruition of the early ‘90s. This is the Freestyle Fellowship that we never got to see. What you have to do is you have to go and listen to me and Micah 9 and the music that P.E.A.C.E. put out there and imagine how it would have all played out together because that’s what we were. IT was about style and it was about taking unit to the level that we’re at. It was about doing different things. I’m from that era where hip-hop was created, where it was created for people trying to break out. Somehow it just slipped into some type of coma and when it woke up it was on some other shit and that almost may be a thing of the past but at the same time, we go through that. I go through that. I don’t dumb it down. I can’t dumb it down. That’s not really what I do. AT the end of the day, that wouldn’t hold on to my soul as much as taking it to places where you can break some boundaries. And so that’s where it’s at. I just like music and I had to work my way up from that as an MC first.
When you look at all the different groups, from Freestyle Fellowship to A-Team and all that, do you feel like versatility is not appreciated in MCs today?
Yeah. I think it is. I think people are just…They want to be safe. They want to be safe. Music is, I guess, to a lot of people, it gives you a certain type of feeling and you kind of want that feeling. It’s like a person that makes you feel a certain kind of way when you’re around them. You have the same conversations and you talk about the same things and you’re into the same things, whether it’s football games or basketball games or whatever. And then there’s other people where there’s a different dynamic and there’s always something new to talk about and always something new to do. That’s just how the world is. I do think that it’s underappreciated. I don’t think that people give it enough credit.
I came up in the era where people had the audacity to do what they did. We were coming up in the gangsta era and they turned our music down low. I come from L.A. and I had to go out of the country to realize that people thought I wasn’t L.A. because I wasn’t on some gangsta shit and I didn’t sound West Coast. Our doors that we had opened had kind of narrowed down and we had to kind of squeeze our way through it to maintain. I think the MCs just now are kind of catching up to our freestyle language.
I look at cats like Lil’ Wayne and I say, ‘Okay, he’s releasing freestyles and all that, but the world thinks he’s the dopest’ but we’ve been freestyling for 20 years and back when we was doing it and coming up with these odd concepts, people were not trying to hear it. And now we’re here in a different era where people can say some crazy shit and it’s kind of accepted and it’s innovative. But yeah. That’s a “yes” to the question. It’s definitely underappreciated. And I’m here. I’m here to put that out there in the world and let them know what’s going on so people can dig stuff like that and jump on board.
Looking at your versatility and appreciation for other genres, do you ever wish that you came from a different era in music?
Well, as myself and appreciating all the different eras that I liked, you wonder, but nah. I like my era. I like what I have to contribute to music as a whole, around the world to everybody. I’m proud of what I have to contribute to that whole because I definitely think I played a part in that whole. I like my era a lot and I don’t want to trade it in to live in the ‘50s or the ‘60s. But there’s something super-cool about Miles’ era and the jazz and the ‘60s and the early ‘70s. They was really on some expanding the mind with their instruments. Out of all the eras that’s the one I really respect a lot and then it goes on down the line from Motown to early blues like Muddy Waters and all that old southern blues and all that. But I appreciate where I’m at now and I wouldn’t want to come from any other era.
Some of my favorite work from you comes from the Accepted Eclectic album. How do you look back on that album today?
Accepted Eclectic was the ping-pong thing from All Balls Don’t Bounce. I’m a b-boy. I’m hip-hop, from the very early stages. At that time, it was my frame of mind at the time and I couldn’t hold back with A Book of Human Languages. By the time I got to Accepted Eclectic, I consciously didn’t want to be known as being locked in a box. I was in a general box as a “conscious rapper” but not the small box that, ‘Okay, that’s what he’s about and I’m looking for the answers to him and everything is inconsistent with him.’ I didn’t want to get caught in that box. Like everyone else, I’m a dynamic individual who talks about a lot of different things. Life is full of everything and I’m not limited to the things I talk about. Sometimes it’s out of anger and sometimes it’s out of curiosity. Sometimes it’s coming from a teacher’s point of view, but by the time I was coming with Accepted Eclectic…
Do you think Freestyle Fellowship will ever get back together?
Yeah. I think we will. I mean, we got a couple of ideas of maybe replacing the position that Jupiter had and going with a new face. But then again, it depends on whether or not we already garnered enough respect and messed it up. I know if we do it again we would have to do it extremely right with the quality. It’s not nothing that we could just throw together. Even though Temptations, which was our last thing, the quality of what we were doing kind of diminished a little bit based on our positions in the industry and what was going on but once we get a real good situation where we can be what we were, which is the right studio and the musicians on deck and all the producers on deck and these big sessions to make stuff like that, then that would probably be the ideal situation to come back as the Freestyle Fellowship. I would say yes, but we’re waiting for the right time to come back in the right way.
I’ve always been impressed with the energy, lyrics and flows that come through almost every Freestyle Fellowship song. How did you guys record your music?
There was a lot of compromising. If you look at the structure of the Freestyle Fellowship stuff, you will notice that there’s an equal amount of participation behind the scenes and with ideas. A few times I came to the studio sessions late and half the song was done and it was up to me to add on what I had to add on. That’s an example of a song going in one direction and I just kind of closed it out. And then there were times when I would have an idea that I would feel big about and then we would do it that way and everybody would follow along. P.E.A.C.E. would feel the same way and Micah would feel the same way. We would have a studio session and back then, we would get the beat up and take the best idea from the table and go from there and if somebody has a better idea we would go from there. It was not a dictatorship. There was full cooperation from everybody because we all knew we had a good opportunity and we all knew what our part was. I started a couple and ended a couple and I think everybody else on the CD can dig on that.
Have you been in touch with Abstract Rude, Micah 9, P.E.A.C.E. and Self-Jupiter?
Yeah, I have. Me and Mic have been buddies since we were in elementary school. He definitely goes on and does his own thing, like any man. And Ab Rude has been there and he hasn’t went too far. We were together last night playing poker. Everybody’s still on deck. I just think it’s time for each individual artist to go explore their own personal aspirations. That’s why we’re doing solo records. We’re going out on the road together to promote all three of our records, Ab’s, mine and Micah’s. And hopefully this is the catalyst to get us back in the studio to do something together. And there’s actually a Haiku mixtape that we’re going to do with all new music. It’s not an official album but we’re going to do that.
You’ve also had your music featured on a lot of video games. How valuable has that been to you?
That actually has been real cool. Big shout out to Decon for hooking that up. They hooked a lot of that up to get more exposure. It’s always a trip when you’ve been in this industry for many years and people say they heard of me from 2K6. (laughs) Nice! It has definitely opened people up to who I am and I think a few people even investigated after the fact and found themselves liking what was going on.
What’s the next move for Acey?
Well, I’m working on my music and my creativity and just trying to do what I can with that. I don’t know. Another record. Maybe somebody will want me in a film. I’m starting to get into my writing and I don’t know. The next step is going to come naturally like the next album. I do want to try to master another craft in my life along with MCing. We’ll see. I want to take what I’m doing with MCing and try something else.