If you've never heard of Scrub and Ace Ha, well then, it's about time you did. The producer-emcee duo that's making waves in the hip-hop scene recently talked to MNGBlog about their influences, how they met, and their latest collaboration: the "Plastic Rock" YouTube series.
Los Angeles-based Ace Ha spins the beats, St. Louis native Scrub spits the verses. Have a listen to any of their collaborations and it instantly becomes obvious that the musical chemistry that exists between the two industry veterans is electric.
However, this partnership might never have happened if it wasn't for the help of a mutual friend. On how they finally joined forces, Ace recounted: "I was looking for rappers to do a couple of songs for a movie soundtrack I had been asked to submit to, and Scrub came highly recommended. The results were so compelling that it just seemed like a no-brainer that we would continue to work." Scrub agreed: "Yeah, that very first song we made together is still one of my favorites and was the catalyst for us teaming up. We'll be releasing a video for that one soon. It's been all gravy since then. Ace is so prolific, I just try and keep up."
The duo is now blending their unique individual styles--each marked with the footprints of so many fantastic sounds and artists that have gone before them--to form an explosive, intriguing fusion bursting with funky old school vibes.
Ace and his brilliant beats have been especially impacted by artists like George Martin, DJ Muggs, J Dilla, and Prince Paul. "[M]ore or less anyone in pursuit of their own sound," he said. "I have always been inspired by artists who follow their creative impulses no matter where it leads them. I've always thought that it is important for an artist--once they have mastered the basics--to blaze a trail for themselves. When a genre falls into a loop of reiteration and then shameless imitation, it falls on hard times. I respect artists that resist the temptation to cash in on the latest crazes."
The long-time producer also provided some insight into how living in the entertainment capital of the world has affected him and his work. "L.A. has definitely opened my eyes as to what it means to be professional," Ace told MNGBlog. "The place is just CRAWLING with talented people, and if you don't stay on top of your game at every moment, the powers that be here will let you know. You get a real sense that there are a zillion cats nipping at your heels, competing for the light of day. I grew up in Indiana and the vibe there is very different. You can just be above average and shine there, but that shit gets no play here. The practical upshot is that I've had to package my off-beat, left-of-center impulses into a shape that is palatable to the average listener. It's OK to be fiercely unique, but if you don't trim that 9-minute raga down to 3 minutes and put in a hook, you can forget it. L.A. has taught me that."
Rapper Scrub's flow and delivery are super sharp and completely on point, his overall persona no doubt a compelling force in the industry. The emcee revealed that he is heavily influenced by older blues music, a flavor that is audible in his work. "My mom had a huge record collection when I was young, mostly blues and soul, and that was my entertainment most of the time," he explained. "Plus I'm from St. Louis which was home to Chuck Berry, Ike Turner, Fontella Bass, Oliver Sain and so many more. Blues musicians provided much of the blueprint for being an entertainer that hip hop artists use today. As far as song writers I would say Ice Cube, Slick Rick, Bob Dylan, Cee Lo, Outkast, Slug, Nas, to name a few." As much as it has seemingly been a blessing to work and live in a city that has produced such incredible talent throughout the decades, Scrub also acknowledges that it is not easy to grow a career there. "St. Louis is a tough market to be an artist in as the opportunities are pretty limited," he said. "The silver lining to that is people collaborate across all kinds of styles and genres and are willing to experiment with new ideas all the time. After all, there isn't much to lose. So living here has greatly expanded my sound through working with artists I may not have been exposed to otherwise."
2016 brought satisfying success for the new duo through their vivid throwback-like debut video "Anita Ride." A bouncing and endearing ode to a hoopty, the video has received play in Footlocker stores internationally (you've probably seen it if you've visited one sometime during the past year). "I'm guessing that Scrub has had a bucket or two in his day. I know I have!" Ace exclaimed. "The popularity of that particular joint is due to the universal nature of the subject. I would say more often than not, a person has had to deal with driving something that ain't easy on the eyes. But it doesn't just mean a car, it could be anything; on a more fundamental level, it has to do with valuing the important aspects of oneself and eschewing the superficial shit."
Indeed, the song appears to derive from personal experience, as Scrub confirmed that he has, in fact, been the owner of a few jalopies himself. He told MNGBlog: "My first car was a Mazda GLC, not a scrap of fabric left on the interior seats, just foam. And the passenger door didn't open so everyone bailed in and out through the window Dukes of Hazard style. Had more than a few junkers after that too. Shitty cars build character and are always hilarious."
Sharing a common denominator in hailing from the Midwest, the duo's roots became a factor that has electrified their super cool new project, "Plastic Rock." The five-part YouTube video series puts a funky fresh twist on classic rock songs, mixing in thought-provoking new lyrics with a little golden-era boombap. About the series Scrub said: "Well, first and foremost I wanted this series to show our personalities and our range. We're both from the Midwest where classic rock is king. So I wanted to take that part of my upbringing and put my own spin on it. Each song in the series is stylistically different so the five videos together serves as a good introduction to where we venture musically. This series is intended to be fun and maybe encourage people who don't typically check for hip hop to have a listen."
So far, the pair has released Volumes I and II in the series, which offer a unique spin on Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" and Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright" (check them out here and here). Come back to musicalnotesglobal.com for the next three "Plastic Rock" installments as they drop.
Scrub and Ace Ha are an official MNGBlog favorite. If you're lovin' 'em too, leave a comment below and be sure to follow them on social media:
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