Ace Hood has become somewhat of an unsung hero around these parts. Though he moves at his own pace, which is to say, a moderate one, Ace Hood has nonetheless amassed a loyal following willing to support his music in droves. We’ve seen it time and time again. In 2017, his Trust The Process mixtape brought over one-hundred-thousand fans to its HNHH page, amassing one-hundred-and-sixty one likes and a strong user rating of 96%. For some context, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN sits at 109k with a user score of 94. J. Cole’s KOD sits at 111K with a user score of 89. DJ Khaled, the man to whom Hood was once signed, brought in 67K with his Grateful project. 

The Rise Of Ace Hood: From "Gutta" To Mixtape God
And that’s only Trust The Process. A quick perusal through his Starvation series, specifically 3, 4, and 5, reveals Hood’s numbers surpassing three-hundred thousand on a recurring basis. Though Hood is not quite matching some of the game’s prominent A-Listers, his run from 2014 to 2017 brought him surprisingly close – at least, within the scope our site’s audience. In fact, said run was enough to cement him as a bonafide HNHH mixtape Diety, one capable of uniting the users with startling efficacy. Yet there remains a strange disconnect where Ace Hood’s popularity is concerned. As of now, Hood has a lone platinum plaque to his name, which arrived courtesy of 2013’s “Bugatti.” And that track, clearly his biggest one to date, came equipped with appearances from both Future and Rick Ross. The Trials And Tribulations (the album from whence it came) Wikipedia page indicates that it wasn’t exactly a sales juggernaut, save for the success of “Bugatti.” So how did Ace Hood become such a sought-after presence? 
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Does the threat of looming absence indeed make the heart grow fonder? Or perhaps the inherent charm of an underdog narrative played a role. Either way, Ace Hood’s stock only seemed to rise in the wake of his departure and perceived “mistreatment” at We The Best music, though Hood would later come to clarify that he and Khaled remained on good terms during a 2017 Breakfast Club interview. Regardless of how it happened, the fact remains that Hood’s last studio album came arrived on this very day in 2013. The fact that an artist managed to retain such a following on the strength of his mixtape run alone is quite the notable feat. A feat decidedly “old-school” in nature, evocative of two different hip-hop eras: the back-of-trunk compact disc hustle popularized by names like Kay “The Drama King” Slay, DJ Envy (of The Breakfast Club fame) and DJ Clue (“Desert Storm!”), and and the second coming of the golden mixtape age, which found websites like our own, DatPiff, and MyMixtapez offering up drops from Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, A$AP Rocky, and of course – Hood himself.

The Rise Of Ace Hood: From "Gutta" To Mixtape God
Consider the man’s work ethic, which is nothing short of prolific. Within a ten-year time frame, Hood delivered twenty mixtapes, including two series, both of which appeared to kick off around the time he delivered his final major label project. Now, this would have been a time before the normalization of streaming, which explains why Hood’s Trials is nowhere to be found within our database. Starvation 4, his first release post Trials, was posted on January 17th 2014. Today, it’s sitting at an impressive 329K visits, many of which would have likely opted for a free download. Consider that at the time of release, it would not have been an Apple Music link present, but rather a download from our player; mixtapes were free to circulate, after all. This sudden industrial shift toward free music, put forth by established names and promising newcomers alike, arrived at the onset of “the blog era.” Together, they helped usher in a strange and fruitful time, in which fans had a wealth of music at their fingertips and a handful of websites qualified to play “the plug.”  
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While Hood was still releasing mixtapes at the height of his mainstream rise, the events of 2013 clearly brought upon a shift in his artistic development. In hindsight, the years between 2011 and 2016 found the industry in a state of flux, playing catch-up to cup the sand slowly tumbling through their fingers. Having already been cast aside by that very industry and likely disillusioned in the process, Ace Hood found himself the beneficiary of the shifting tides. With “free mixtapes” as his product, Hood began to sling music at an alarming rate, with no shortage of fans ready to receive each drop. Given the “free” nature of it all, gone were any inhibitions about footing uncertain bills. The system seemed perfectly tailored to an artist like Ace, who never quite found commercial success during his active time in the majors. 

Every time Ace Hood releases music, even today, it’s fascinating to see the loyalty with which our users support him. Perhaps it’s the result of serendipitous timing, the marriage of two new and exciting developments in the harmonious worlds of blogs and mixtapes. With Ace Hood serving as one of the main supporters of content, the relationship he forged with our own site was symbiotic in nature. And given the statistics shared above, it’s clear that Ace had earned – and still retains — the love of the people. The sheer frequency with which he released music saw to that, but there’s likely more to the story. Though still technically signed, Ace carried himself with the liberated spirit of a free agent, tearing other rapper’s instrumentals apart with the passion of an unsigned hype. Given the freedom to move at his own pace, the Floridian took the ball and ran, discovering a process he’d eventually come to trust.