More than an artist, Call Me Ace strives to educate and inspire

Renee Lopez Instagram @misslopezmedia

I had the opportunity to participate on The Round Table Talk Show with Sharifah with Call Me Ace. It was a panel of various entrepreneurs sharing their perspective on various current topics. As the panel progressed Ace, shared with us his journey in both his career along with his business in the music industry as an artist.

Let me introduce you all to the artist and entrepreneur, Call Me Ace.

What inspired your musical journey?

A few things — one being, my upbringing. I grew up in a creative household. My mom acts, sings, writes poetry and is a creative writer in general. She has a few published works out as we speak, which is pretty dope. My sister is a singer and my younger brother is a dancer and actor. We’ve always had these artistic aspirations growing up.

For me, I started in illustration which grew into writing, acting, and poetry. When I entered middle school, it wasn’t cool to be winning poetry awards and things like that, so I threw the poetry over some beats, and that’s how hip-hop came to become my own.

In college I started Columbia University Society of Hip Hop (CUSH) with a couple of friends, but by the time I graduated I didn’t want to rap anymore — I literally had a come-to-Jesus moment. The last thing we did before commencement was open up for Snoop Dogg. Nonetheless, I didn’t like what I was rapping about anymore and, even though it was the biggest career highlight for me at the time, I decided to stop creating music altogether. I didn’t even think I was going to make it again.

Renee Lopez Instagram @misslopezmedia

However, after coming back from studying abroad in Barcelona during business school, I spoke to an old childhood friend and homie of mine — Gary Pivot — who asked me, “can you still rap? Do you still know how?” One thing led to another and I just got back into it — not because I wanted to be cool or because I was trying to make money, but especially with my newfound faith — I had something to share. I had experiences and a different way of looking at life that could inspire and empower others.

Looking back, I was already doing that before by turning my thoughts into poetry and finding beats to complement my words. That became the impetus for how I’ve been creating music for the past four years.

How has working at YouTube opened doors for you?

The corporate world in general has definitely played a role in my success. Whether it’s Youtube or Facebook or when I was a Deloitte consultant; and even my experiences during and before business school — all of it really helped to sharpen my business savvy, my strategic and critical-thinking skills, and my ability to innovate in a corporate environment. I’ve worked primarily in strategy operations roles my whole career, specifically within marketing, technology, and media and entertainment.

Having this type of business foundation has been crucial as an entrepreneur. Knowing how to navigate white space to create impact for and with Fortune 500 companies — it’s given me a level of rigor that I directly apply to my own personal work. I literally use spreadsheets for my daily life.

I’d also emphasize that I’ve been doing creative and performing arts, literally, since I was three years old. I definitely put in my 10,000 hours there. Where I’ve been growing, now, is a businessman that is navigating the creative and performing arts world. And with that, I’ve been applying all of my learnings and utilizing my transferable skills for myself.

I didn’t get hired by Youtube to rap — I was hired to do a specific job just like I was hired at other companies to play a specific role. What’s dope though is that when Youtube hired me, they saw on my resume I do music. That’s how real this is for me — I run my music just like any other entrepreneur. And I have the experience and credibility to formally show that.

When I left Facebook and dropped a music video announcing I was leaving Facebook (I had a dope time working at Facebook by the way — that was the beginning of me really learning how to juggle both sides of my brand, simultaneously), some people at Youtube saw that video and were already circulating it around the offices. They knew coming in that I was a rapper which is cool, but nah that’s not why I was hired at the end of the day. And best believe, if I don’t deliver on my actual job, it ain’t gonna keep me there either.

Did the pandemic change any of your goals’ trajectory?

Yes and no. My goals are still to make music that inspires and empowers, and to expand my reach to those that want and need it. However, the how to do that definitely changed as a result of the pandemic.

Case in point, I had this whole plan back when I thought I knew what the future held — which is a joke between me and God. I was going to drop a completely different project that I ended up…not necessarily scrapping…I still have the tracks and artwork…it’s just on hold. It’s kind of wild being your own boss, your own label, your own manager and shelving your own project. As an artist I’m like, “why did you shelve it?” But as a businessman I’m like, “fam, that’s not going out at all.

As the pandemic continued and as the social unrest increased, I felt compelled to use my God-given gifts to create — as a reaction to the pain and frustration, the police brutality, the racial injustice, the hopelessness, all of it. What came out of the creative process was a completely new project, something that wasn’t in my “original” roadmap, but one that I felt called to do, and ended up being the perfect plan.

To further my desire to give — both through the music and my actions — I set a goal for fundraising $5,000 for Faith In Action’s Live Free campaign. I’ve never fundraised in this way before, so I didn’t know what to expect. To not only exceed the donation goal but also provide music and visuals that people resonate with, and that align with our current state of the world, I’m grateful. Right now, the pandemic has made me less concerned about “executing a pre-baked plan” and more concerned about answering the question, “what am I doing this for?” all the more acutely. And at the end of the day, that’s the question that keeps me aligned to the larger mission and the main goal. Everything else becomes less serious when I keep that mindset.

Renee Lopez Instagram @misslopezmedia

What keeps you inspired?

This is kinda connected to what I was saying before. My life’s mission. My faith (especially when times get tough). My observations in the midst of any situation.

When this pandemic started, and then the injustice amplified, I honestly lost motivation to create anything. Ironically, I have a song on the newest project, Working From Home: Extended, called “Waste Time.” The first line starts: ‘It’s so weird to not have motivation.’ I literally wrote that line because I had no motivation to write. I ended up finishing that song in under an hour.

The thing with me and inspiration is that I don’t wait to be inspired. Instead of waiting for inspiration to come, I force it by grabbing onto whatever I can. Anything around me — even nothing can be something. As long as I keep it real, because I ain’t trying to rap about stuff that makes no sense for me. I don’t have time for that.

What tips do you have for anyone who is looking to launch a music career?

‘Launching a music career’ is an interesting phrase. When I hear ‘launch’ I think ‘business’ or ‘product.’ If you have that kind of mindset about your music and you’re thinking about it as an entrepreneur, businessperson, marketer or product manager — then dope! If it’s not, that’s my advice.

Launching a music career is no different from growing a business (one might argue, even riskier given the industry). There are over 2 million artists putting out over 50,000 songs daily. No one can stop you from making music — in your bedroom, coffee shop or wherever. That said, if you’re trying to get your music “heard,” well…that’s the business aspect, which honestly has less to do with ‘music creation’ and way more to do with behavioral economics, finance, marketing, operations, R&D, etc.

If that kind of stuff doesn’t interest you, then linking with someone who can and enjoys thinking that way is a strong suggestion. That said, knowledge is power, and the more you understand how to grow and nurture your own business, the more protected you can be from people that try to take advantage of you.

Lastly, I’m a marketer at heart and I honestly believe that without marketing there would be no successful businesses. So if you’re gonna start somewhere, read up on how marketing actually works. How do you grow brand equity? Does your tone align with your company mission? Do you know who will enjoy your product and why? Are your tactics aligned to an overarching strategy? And are they measurable? This is business. I encourage you to learn-up. And the best part: Google, Youtube — it’s all free. Dive in.

Find more information about Ace at: www.callmeace.com

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Chandra Gore

Chandra Gore

50 Followers

Principal Consultant & Publicist for Chandra Gore Consulting. Author, Speaker, Producer, Community Organizer and Festival Founder — Serial Entrepreneur