Ace: ‘Rejection Is The Main Factor Of Motivation’
The veteran rapper on his latest record ‘UnderGod,’ his 13 year hip-hop journey and more
The year was 2006; the streets were ripe but not ready for a rap revelation. Ace (Abhishek Dhusia) had just founded city-based hip-hop crew Mumbai’s Finest with fellow city rappers AP aka Amey Patkar and Top Dawg aka Abhishek Singh. Between solo projects, rapping beside Flo Rida and Chamillionaire and leading the crew, Ace’s journey coincided with the evolution of the hip-hop landscape in India. What was once niche is now a genre that has catapulted to dominate the charts and he’s seen it all – as an observer and a catalyst. From 2006’s “Shake It” to 2015’s “HGMKH (Har Gham Mein Khushi Hai)” to his 2018 debut solo album Second To None, it’s been 13 years in Indian hip-hop and Ace is nowhere near done.
In his second solo release UnderGod, the Mumbai’s Finest leader is putting out what he calls “a vibe.” He breaks down the wordplay, relaying two meanings behind the record’s title. “Firstly, it’s UnderGod because I’m a God fearing man and I’m always going to be under God. And secondly, it’s underground God,” he says.
The album is largely autobiographical and an ode to Mumbai. The veteran rapper wants people to know that no matter the phase or circumstance, they could go from being the underdog to becoming the UnderGod if they don’t give up.
“I feel that rap in the country has become monotonous and saturated. The same kind of beats come over and over again,” he says. In UnderGod, Ace has experimented with trap, house, pop, moombahton, EDM, metal, jazz and more; 25 days is all it took for him and producer Crazy Vibes aka Sagar Bohara to create the album.
UnderGod features vocalist Sunneith Revankar (from metallers Undying Inc and The Silent Offensive) on “Mosh Pit ,” rapper Ishq Bector on “Vantas,” singer-songwriter KC Dan on “Focused,” rapper Trap Poju on ‘Making Moves” and rapper Sahir on “Can’t Stop Wont Stop.” “The album changed me because I did not know that I could flip and shift genres between tracks. Crazy is one of the best producers out there,” he says.
“Focused” is Ace’s favorite track on the record. It takes him back to a time where nothing was working out as he balanced a full-time job and a career in rap. “I wrote it when my father was alive. That’s where the first line comes from: ‘Kaafi hai pressure/ Baap bole job kar,’” he shares. When his family asked him to quit and let go of hip-hop, Ace realized it was time to get his head in the game. “ ‘Focus’ is like my classic style. That’s what I rhyme about on the record. I try to send a lot of positive vibes and bring in a lot of motivation,” he says.
UnderGod is Ace’s major label debut with Zee Music Company. A content deal that occurred after the album was ready; it’s one that allows Ace to still retain his independence. “It does not restrict me, in terms of my creativity, taking control and choosing who to work with,” he says. The rapper is still his own manager, PR and social media savant. “I do everything by myself, and I still keep it organic.”
Ace prides himself on being independent and old school; he set up the album launch tour all by himself. There’s no artist management or booking agency and sponsor in the mix. “Most people brag about being independent. But I think we (Mumbai’s Finest) truly are the only independent crew out here,” he says. Ace is particularly proud of his journey and that of Mumbai’s Finest. “You know what they say about not getting chances? Rejection is the main factor of motivation,” he reflects, “We’ve been neglected and rejected by the mainstream. I don’t think they give us the respect that we deserve.”
With over a decade of experience in Indian hip-hop, Ace has only one regret — he took too long to make the switch. He says, “2016 is when I quit my job and decided to pursue rapping as a profession. Fast forward to 2019 and I’m making more money than I ever did.”
Stream UnderGod here.