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Discover: Chicago's Own Ace da Vinci

Photo complements of level-upmagazine.com
"Waking up in my city--every day, it's not promised." Ace da Vinci, Chicago native, knows that life in the city isn't as glamorous as Frank Sinatra made it out to be. He's creating music that truly speaks to and about the city he calls home. I got to talk to Ace about his music, his crew, and his activism in the Chi. 

How would you describe your sound? 

My sound was created from experiences in faith, struggle, power and love. I want you to walk away from a piece of my work feeling powerful and capable. Go get some inspiration, y'know?

How did you get started rapping? 

My first rap song was about the violence in Chicago. I was fourteen. Now I'm just focusing on enhancing the ability to speak real issues.

"God Bless" is my jam. Tell me about the process of writing this song. 

I didn't have speakers when I made the beat to "God Bless." I was at my dad's house a few weeks before it went into foreclosure and i made that beat in my headphones. The hook came first, and the verse shortly followed. I was so inspired I borrowed money to record it that same weekend.

Tell me what SmartMouf really means. How did this crew get started? 

SmartMouf is a family of artists with passion and vision. We're an important vein of hip-hop because we embody more than one sound. In a nutshell, SmartMouf is an Art Collective. We started like the X-Men: many people from different walks of life with a common accord that will impact the world.

#HandsUp, your newest song this year and a collaboration with Jamila Woods, is absolutely gorgeous. I'm assuming this song was inspired by the violence in Ferguson, based on the title. How did that violence affect you and your music?

Thank You. Social injustice affects my music consistently. Revolutions and the idea of revolutions need to remain strong in the hearts of the oppressed. Many of us are simply waiting for that spark to just...do what needs to be done. I keep my hands up and Fly because I know elevation is the key to seeing the big picture and spreading the knowledge to the masses. Fuck the ground.

I also saw on your Instagram that you were involved in a train takeover. Tell me more about that.

The #TrainTakeOver is a movement that consists of emcees, poets, singers, instrumentalists and overall dope people. We board the subways at the same time and occupy every cart, protesting and performing songs of strength and hope. Some people receive it, others ignore us. But the awareness is there, the visibility is there, and most importantly the impact is felt every time we do it. Its one of my favorite things to do.

What are you doing to put yourself and your music out into the Chicago rap community? 

I perform so much. I used to hoard my music, and I still kind of do, but  I'm getting better with just putting out more work just because y'all need to hear that newness, y'know?

Tell me about this Verizon Wireless Home Turf contest you were involved in. 

The Verizon #HomeTurf contest started with the radio station WGCI asking for submissions from artists with songs of powerful inspirational messages. I sent them God Bless. that song made it through the preliminary voting, the peoples vote, and it catapulted me to the stage. I performed live in front of execs from Atlantic, Interscope and other cool people and ended up winning the entire contest. Next stop: Essence Festival 2015.

So what can we expect next from you? 

My project #SEVENDAYHIGH drops in the spring.

I have to ask...how do I get my hands on a dope SmartMouf necklace like yours? 

Sorry love, the piece is a one of. BUT I am working on having a mean merch game for all of you. Stay tuned & peace to Ya. #Heavyyy

Check out Ace's song "#HandsUp" featuring Jamila Woods of M&O:

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