FREDRICKSBURG, VA – When tragedy struck artist Ace of Spade’s life, the world was turned on its head. Like the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours,” and a storm came over the artist’s life when the death of his grandfather in 2008 was shortly followed by the death of his father in 2009. Thus began a series of heartbreak and disappointments; a downward spiral that would tear him up from the inside out. The clouds cleared, however, and with death came new life for Ace of Spades. Prompted by an invitation to his uncle’s studio in Pennsylvania, the artist discovered a way out of the rabbit hole of depression and hurt and began his pursuit of his very own American dream: He was to become his very own genre of hip hop. With that, Ace of Spades set out to change the music industry – and the world – forever.
Ace of Spade’s debut album is titled III, as a tribute to his deceased family members. While you’ll know him in the studio and on stage as “Ace of Spades,” his given name is Kenneth Everett Medford III, a name he shared with his beloved grandfather and father. The album is catharsis; Ace of Spades released his anger, pain, and hurt into the lyrics and the project became an avenue of therapy for the aching artist. Slowly, track by track, Ace realized his dreams and began the pursuit of his real passion in the studio. “I’ve kind of been in the recovery period,” says the artist. “When it comes to this music thing, a lot of people look at music as therapy, and I can attest to that. My uncle invited me to the studio as a positive way to move forward. A lot of what’s going into this album was inspired by that pain.”
One of the biggest struggles Ace of Spades has had to overcome is the feeling of abandonment amidst the loss of his family. In a time when he desperately needed the support and encouragement of friends, they were absent, leaving the artist to grapple with his feelings entirely on his own. Out on his own for the first time in his first apartment, he suffered fallouts with friends who couldn’t understand his hardships. “Nobody,” a track that features Ace of Spade’s brother, conveys the story of isolationism. “It’s a therapeutic release of the anger that developed while I tried to maturely deal with those situations,” explains Ace, “My brother was also dealing with a different set of issues he was going through. My problem was feeling a lack of support.”
When Ace of Spades turned to music as his ultimate career, many of the people in his life scorned and mocked him for his ambitions. While they took standard, 9 to 5 jobs, Ace rejected the idea that he should do anything other than what he was made to do, which is music. His track, “Doing Me,” is likewise a vent about the people in Ace’s life who failed to support and encourage him. The artist calls it a “bridge between mainstream rap and speaking on what effects me personally.” The song is a testimony of passion, and Ace’s commitment to living life exactly as he chooses. “Throughout the track, I make mention of people who looked down on me for musical pursuits, whereas they’re forcing themselves to do things they don’t like.”
The artist didn’t come to the decision to make music professionally lightly. After holding many jobs, from management, to insurance sales, to a stint at GameStop, Ace of Spades discovered that he didn’t just want to pursue other passions, he needed to succeed at music. “It’s cool to work in a video game store until you work in a video game store. I knew I needed to get out. It took life drop-kicking me in the chest to inspire me to do something else,” says the artist. Now, the pressure is on for the talented performer who is determined to make a place for himself in the hip hop industry. “If this doesn’t work, I have no idea what I’m going to do. This is everything for me,” admits Ace.
Ace of Spades is concerned with more than just making great music. The artist is also determined to uphold the integrity of hip hop culture, and the state of the music industry and how it effects people on a grander scale. “I want to be an example to people,” he explains, “and I want them to see it’s about more than the chains and women and cars. It’s a huge part of the black experience. It’s a huge part of the American experience.” Ace laments the fact that the songs that make the radio are generally socially detrimental; they encourage racial disparity, promote violence and hatred, and give the young people listening the wrong idea about healthy relationships and priorities. “I don’t think people take music as seriously as it should be. In everything you do, there’s sound; there’s music. If you’re a kid and all you do is listen to the ‘black station’ and all you hear is guns, money, women, cars, that’s all you’re going to think about. That’s all you’re going to pursue. We need more conscious artists on the radio.”
Chances are, you’ve never met a musician – or person – like Ace of Spades. A bonafide foodie and at-home chef, devout fan of Korean and Japanese culture, and self-taught wordsmith, the artist is unlike any other. “I am what the mainstream media does not represent. I am multidimensional. I am diversity personified. I am that person that has the ability to appeal to my man with the Tims and the hoodies on the corner, and my man who is chilling playing Pokemon with his friends. I could not imagine being anyone else.”