Duval Clear (born December 4, 1966),[1] known better by his stage name Masta Ace, is an American rapper and record producer from New York City. He appeared on the classic 1988 Juice Crew posse cut "The Symphony". He is noted for his distinct voice and rapping proficiency,[2][1][3] and has influenced several MCs.

Masta Ace
Masta Ace performing in 2005
Masta Ace performing in 2005
Background information
Birth nameDuval Clear
Also known as
  • Ase One
  • Eca Retsam
Born (1966-12-04) December 4, 1966 (age 57)
OriginNew York City, U.S.
GenresHip hop
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • record executive
Years active1988–present
Formerly of

Biography edit

1988–1994 edit

Clear graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1988, after meeting Marley Marl in 1987 during his summer break.[4] Ace made his recording debut on the Juice Crew posse-cut "The Symphony", along with fellow Juice Crew members Craig G, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane, released on Marley Marl's In Control album.[5] The album also featured two additional Ace tracks, "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize" and "Simon Says".

In 1989, he released his first solo single, "Together" b/w "Letter to the Better". A year later, his debut album, Take a Look Around, was released through Marl's Cold Chillin' label, featuring production from Marl and DJ Mister Cee.[5] The album featured two minor hit singles in "Music Man" and "Me & The Biz",[5] the latter track including Ace impersonating Biz Markie who did not reach the studio for the planned duet.[1]

In the years following his debut, Ace developed bitter feelings toward the commercial state of hip hop music and the prominence of Gangsta rap. Released in 1993, SlaughtaHouse saw Ace express these feelings through a loose concept of the album lampooning a Gangsta rap persona that Ace portrayed as cartoonish and inauthentic.[5] The album featured Ace's new crew, Masta Ace Incorporated, which included members Eyceurokk, Lord Digga, Paula Perry and R&B vocalist Leschea. The singles "SlaughtaHouse", "Saturday Nite Live", "Style Wars" and "Jeep Ass Niguh" were taken from the album. A remix of the latter – titled "Born to Roll" – became a crossover single in 1994, peaking at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[6] In the same year, Ace became a member of a temporary crew Crooklyn Dodgers, formed for the release of Spike Lee's movie, Crooklyn, along with MCs Special Ed and Buckshot of Black Moon, and recorded the title track of the album soundtrack.[5] The song became Ace's second Hot 100 hit in 1994, peaking at No. 60 on the chart.

1995–2000 edit

Ace furthered his mainstream appeal in 1995, with his radio-friendly Sittin' on Chrome album. This effort was also released with the Masta Ace Incorporated crew, now also known as The I.N.C. The album was Ace's most commercially successful release, breaking into the Top 20 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. Sittin' On Chrome included "Born to Roll", as well as two other Hot 100 hit singles, "The I.N.C. Ride" and "Sittin' on Chrome". By this time, Ace had become fully involved in his music on the production end as well, usually under the name Ase One. Following the album's success, Ace had a falling out with I.N.C. members Lord Digga and Paula Perry, leading to the breakup of the crew. After the split, Ace was largely missing from the hip hop scene over the next five years, save for a number of random vinyl singles. During his vinyl days, he bounced from a number of labels, releasing his "Cars" single on Tape Kingz Records, his "Yeah Yeah Yeah" and "NFL" singles on the Union Label, his "NY Confidential" single on Replay Records, his "Express Delivery" single on Three Sixty Records, his "Spread It Out/Hellbound" single on Yosumi Records, his "Conflict" single on Mona Records, his "Ghetto Like" single on Fat Beats, his "So Now U A MC" single on Bad Magic Records, and his "Brooklyn Blocks" single on Buckshot's Duck Down Records.[1]

Masta Ace in 2001

2001–present edit

Ace's "Ghetto Like" single led to a misunderstanding with an underground emcee named Boogieman, who released a somewhat similar single titled "Ghetto Love" which was released on 420recordings not long before. He thought that Ace was "biting" his track and released a diss song toward Ace titled "Just You Wait". Ace responded to Boogieman on the diss track "Acknowledge", which also dissed The High & Mighty over a misunderstanding. The trading of records led to a rap battle between the two at a Lyricist Lounge event. "Acknowledge" was also included on Ace's 2001 album, Disposable Arts.[1] Masta Ace also performed numerous "Dubtitled" voice overs on the television series titled Kung Faux.

Disposable Arts, a concept album chronicling Ace's time spent at a satirical rap school named the "Institute of Disposable Arts", became one of the most acclaimed underground hip hop releases of 2001. JCOR Records folded soon after the release, leaving it out-of-print, until being re-released in 2005 on Ace's self-established M3 label. The album closer, "No Regrets", led many fans to believe that it would be Ace's final album, because of the line "I don't know if it's the end, but yo, it might be". Ace killed the rumors by returning in 2004 with his fifth album A Long Hot Summer, another highly acclaimed effort. The story concept, similar to that on his last release, served as a prelude to the story told on Disposable Arts, chronicling the "Long Hot Summer" that led to his character's incarceration at the beginning of the Disposable Arts album. Subsequently, Ace announced the formation of his new rap crew named eMC, including himself, Punchline, Wordsworth and his protégé Strick. Ace remarked in a December 2006 interview that he would no longer record as a solo artist, only with eMC.[7] eMC's first group album, The Show, was scheduled for early 2007 but was released in February 2008 digitally and April 2008 physically.

In 2007, Masta Ace had a track included on the Official Joints mixtape, a compilation of previously unreleased tracks by various NYC rappers.[1]

In 2009, Masta Ace joined forces with Boston rapper Ed O.G. to release Arts & Entertainment which was released on November 3, 2009.[8] Arts & Entertainment got shortened to A&E which resulted in the cable TV channel A&E asking Masta and Edo to remove the symbol from their original album artwork. The albums already printed have been sold at live shows following the release of the record.[9]

In 2011 and in 2012 he coached high school football for the Irvington Blue Knights in NJ.[citation needed]

In 2012, Masta Ace released MA Doom: Son Of Yvonne, produced entirely by MF Doom.[10] In an interview, Ace explained that he devised the Son of Yvonne album to express things he had been unable to say to his mother before she died.[11]

In January 2014, Masta Ace reunited with Stricklin, Wordsworth and Punchline as eMC, signing a record deal with Penalty Entertainment and Sony Red.[12] They're expected to release an EP in April 2014, followed by a sophomore LP due out in early 2015.[13] Punchline left the group in October 2014.

Later in 2014, it was announced that Masta Ace signed to M3 Records/Penalty Entertainment for his next solo album, The Falling Season. This album was ultimately released in 2016.[14] In 2016, Masta Ace was interviewed by Ryan Maxwell for Hip-Hop Kings.[15] The interview spoke in depth about the Disposable Arts re-issue, and the documentary which celebrated 20 years of the album. At the end of the interview, Masta Ace also confirmed he has begun filming another documentary for his critically acclaimed album "A Long Hot Summer".

The producer Marco Polo announced in 2018 that he was producing a new Masta Ace album,[16] produced entirely by himself, to be titled A Breukelen Story; this album was released on November 9, 2018.[17]

International work edit

Masta Ace was prominently the vocal artist on his co-authored track "Talkin' What I Feel" by the short-lived but hugely respected early 1990s British formed group Young Disciples fronted by Carleen Anderson . The track appeared on the classic soul, acid-jazz, dance 1991 album Road To Freedom heralded by some as one of the top albums of the decade, and also on the 1992 EP "Young Disciples".

He and Croatian producer Koolade made a song "Beautiful" that was on his album A Long Hot Summer.

He is featured on a song off of album Protuotrov ("Antidote") by Bosnian rapper Frenkie, the song is called Živili ("Live On") featuring Masta Ace & Phat Phillie and is produced by Edo Maajka.

He appeared on Czech hiphop group Prago Union's album "HDP", where he performed on the track "Beat and I a já und ich" along with German rapper Dendemann.

He also appeared on Polish rap group Familia H.P. album "42" on the track "Born In New York".

In 2003, he appeared on the Swedish rapper Chords' track "Get u awn" with Punchline. The track is on the album "The garden around the mansion".

Masta Ace travelled to Australia in 2008 to record for the Funkoars track "This is How" which came off the album The Hangover. The track sampled parts of the Masta Ace's 2004 track "Good Ol' Love". The Funkoars have made several references to Masta Ace in their lyrics as well as using samples in other works.

He is also featured on the track "Sminke" by the critically acclaimed Norwegian Hip Hop duo Karpe Diem. The title of the album is Aldri Solgt En Løgn (Never Sold a Lie). In English the word "Sminke" means makeup, and the song is about artists trading their image for what their record companies want it to be.

In 2007, he appeared on Admit It, a song by Swiss hip hop group Nefew from their album Off the Cuff.

In 2010, he appeared on "Set You Free" along with Wordsworth, a track by UK hip hop DJ/Producer "Skitz" from his album "The Sticksman".

In 2010, he appeared on "You don't know about it" alongside M-Dot, a track by French hip hop DJ/Producer DJ Jean Maron from his album "RUN MPC". It was the lead single of the album and received heavy radio rotations. (released on 12" and CD)

In 2012, he is featured on the track "Progression" by German DJ/Producer DJ Q-Fingaz from his album "Qllection".[18] The same year, he is featured on "The Bridge", a song by Polish hip hop squad Slums Attack from album "CNO 2"

In 2014, he collaborated with Canberra-based Australian rapper Nix on the single "SHE".[19]

On December 19, 2014, Ace was featured on a track called "My Style" with German Producer The Mighty Moe[20] who also produced for Termanology,[21] Reks[22] and many more.

In 2014, he is featured alongside Tajai (from Souls Of Mischief) on the track "2 the Essence" by German Rapper Kool Savas from his album "Märtyrer"

In 2015, he appeared on "Thinking of You", a song by Swedish hip hop duo Professor P & DJ Akilles from their album "All Year, Every Year".

In 2015, he is featured alongside Kidaf & Nekfeu on the track "Nothing Changed" by German hip-hop/pop producer Shuko from his album "For The Love Of It".

In 2022, he is featured on the track "Unzerstörbar" by German Rapper Umse from his album "Séparée".

Legacy edit

Masta Ace is considered to be a highly skilled and influential MC – music journalist Peter Shapiro describes him as "one of the great pure New York MCs",[2] and Allmusic describes him as "truly an underappreciated rap veteran and underground luminary".[1] Commenting on how Masta Ace is sometimes overlooked despite his skill, Rolling Stone says, "even the most avid fan of raw hip-hop lyricism can sometimes neglect to mention Masta Ace alongside hard-bitten champs such as Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and Kool G Rap".[3] Eminem mentions Masta Ace as one of his influences in his book The Way I Am, saying, "Masta Ace had amazing storytelling skills – his thoughts were so vivid".[23] He mentions him again in "Lucky You", with the line "We need three Stacks ASAP, and bring Masta Ace back".[24]

Personal life edit

In 2000, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but he did not reveal it to the public until 2013,[25] when his medicine syringes and vials were exposed while on tour, during a police stop in the Czech Republic, as his belongings were searched and exposed.[26]

Discography edit

Solo albums
Collaborative albums

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Michael DiBella (December 4, 1966). "Masta Ace | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Shapiro, Peter, 2005, The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition, Penguin, p. 247.
  3. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Who is Masta Ace and what has he contributed to music?". eNotes. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 212. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  6. ^ "Masta Ace – Chart history". Billboard. August 21, 2004. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Fleischer, Adam Masta Ace and Edo G, Banned From TV XXL Magazine November 2009.
  9. ^ Fox, Luke Conversations: Masta Ace and Edo G at Exclaim! February 2010.
  10. ^ Music Eyz Masta Ace & MF DOOM's "MA DOOM: Son Of Yvonne" Review Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Music Eyz Exclusive UK Interview with Masta Ace Archived March 3, 2016, at the Wayback Machine at Music Eyz August 2012
  12. ^ "AllHipHop » eMC (Masta Ace, Stricklin, Punchline & Wordsworth) Sign With Penalty/Sony Red". AllHipHop. February 6, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  13. ^ "eMC". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  14. ^ "Masta Ace". Penalty Entertainment. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  15. ^ "Masta Ace Disposable Arts Interview". Hip-hopkings.com. April 8, 2016. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  16. ^ "15 songs deep for this Masta Ace x MP album. not done yet!". January 10, 2018.
  17. ^ "@mastaacepics on Instagram: "How do you feel about this album with me and @marcopolobeats ?? The best couple of comments (keep it brief) will be added to the vinyl…"". Instagram.
  18. ^ "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  19. ^ "Masta Ace & Nix – SHE (Music Video)". YouTube. June 30, 2014. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  20. ^ "My Style – Single by Masta Ace". December 19, 2014 – via itunes.apple.com.
  21. ^ "Shut Up and Rap – Termanology – Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  22. ^ "Reks – Little Things (prod by The Mighty Moe) – OFFICIAL VIDEO". YouTube. September 20, 2013. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  23. ^ Eminem, with Sacha Jenkins, 2008, The Way I Am, Dutton Adult, p. 20.
  24. ^ Eminem (Ft. Joyner Lucas) – Lucky You, retrieved October 9, 2022
  25. ^ "Masta Ace Reveals He Has Multiple Sclerosis". HipHopDX. December 5, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  26. ^ Ma, David (November 26, 2018). "Come Clean: The Metamorphosis of Masta Ace". Passion Of The Weiss. Retrieved February 22, 2020.
  27. ^ "The Tonite Show by eMC on Apple Music". Itunes.apple.com. May 4, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  28. ^ "Working on song sequence for this album..." Instagram.com/mastaacepics. August 18, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2018.
  29. ^ "New Music alert! New album "Richmond Hill" on the way..!!!!". Instagram.com/mastaacepics. October 31, 2023. Retrieved November 8, 2023.

External links edit

[2] personal website