‘Rapper’ Ace releases new album on 30 years of career and 50 years of life

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In the year in which he completes 30 years of career, much of them in Mind Da Gap, Ace is preparing to edit an album that tells the story, which is also his, of Brando, a ‘godfather’.

“Biography of a Conscience,” which he plans to release in September, comes out in the year Ace turns 50 and is the first he has recorded as Brando.

In an interview with Lusa, in Vila Nova de Gaia, where he grew up and still lives, Ace said that the new ‘alter ego’ came about, first of all, because “everyone” calls him godfather and Marlon Brando was, for him, “the best godfather in the history of ‘Godfather’ films”. In addition, he had already released an album entitled “Marlon Brando” in 2017.

After listening to all the songs on the new album for the first time, Ace realized that “if you put them in a certain order”, they formed “a kind of chronology”.

“Here I can make a kind of movie in songs, with a narrative, which at the same time – this was all by chance – works as a narrative for my story in music: Having started fighting, having had spectacular moments of success, of fame, of life going super well for me, of being practically rich, because I lived with my parents, I had no expenses, all the money I had was for dinners, going out at night and for gas and doing ‘tuning in the car’, these nonsense, stories with women, betrayals, the decline of the career and then death “, he said.

At one point, Brando is murdered and the album ends with him dead, something Ace considers “a metaphor for the end” of his career, which “will happen one day, but not with this record”.

“I’m not the one who ended my career, but I feel like a lot of people have. That ends up being the metaphor, but [the album] ends with a song where I come back as a ghost, to attend my funeral, and another where I end up as a spirit, having a reflection, which is a song I originally wrote talking to my father, but which fits, with me in the third person, like a footballer, talking to myself “, he shared.

“Biography of a conscience” will have a physical edition and Ace would like to develop it for other things: “that the concerts were not concerts, that it was a play, a musical, but I’m still figuring out how it could be, I would love to develop this into a series or a movie, who doesn’t?”.

This album should be the third in a series of records with unique producers, which began in the years of the pandemic: “Rua da Frente”, with DJ Guze, from Dealema, and “Herança”, with Madkutz.

The third album should have been with Keso, who “defined an aesthetic, more ‘street’, more ‘gangsta’, with many quotation marks”.

That album would be a return to A.Ventura, a character he created in 2004/2005 and “which only resulted in two songs”. “Today I can’t assume that pseudonym, but the philosophy is more or less the same,” he said.

The collaboration with Keso had already started recording, but some “creative artistic quips” arose and the two decided it was “better to stop”.

“In the meantime I was left with ten songs and ‘I want to release this somehow’. So I decided to face this challenge myself, to make beats for this project. In 30 years of career, it was the biggest challenge I had”, he said.

The goal would be to finish the series of albums with different producers with a record produced by Sam The Kid, a project that is being done, “but it will probably take some time”.

Ace’s (Nuno Carneiro) career begins to be told in 1993, when he decided to make a band with Presto (Hugo Piteira), Da Wreckas.

The year he met Presto, at a concert, was the same year he realized that “he wasn’t the only guy who liked rap” in Portugal, because he didn’t know anyone who did.

“It was a super special year in my life where before I met Presto, I met Gen D,” she shared.

Ace came to General D through a story in the Público newspaper. He wrote a letter to the newspaper to try to get in touch with the rapper. “After I don’t know how long they answered me, also by letter. And I don’t remember how, but I know I got in touch with General D,” he recalled.

At the time, General D – the first MC to release an album in his own name (“Pé Na Tchôn, Karapinha Na Céu”, in 1995) in Portugal – was preparing to record a music video in Miratejo, Seixal, and invited Ace to take part.

He got on the train to Lisbon, where he stayed with a friend whom he asked to accompany him to the south bank of the Tagus. Everything was arranged by landline, as cell phones were still a mirage at the time. “I got there, amazed, because the graffiti had nothing to do with the level of graffiti I painted here. It was real stuff, real graffiti. There was an impromptu session, I always carried a little notebook, where I wrote rhymes, I opened it and read a lyric”.

Always with a “sharp pen”, Ace inherited his father’s artistic talents, but not his musical ones. He still went to music school as a kid, but learned “just the basics”, the rest was self-taught.

'Rapper' Ace releases new album on 30 years of career and 50 years of life

Although rap is the aspect of hip-hop in which he became best known, the first contact he had with that culture was through breakdancing, “a worldwide fad that hit there in the mid-1980s”.

“It was through breakdance, but I wasn’t aware of what it was. I knew that graffiti had to do with it, because I saw it in movies or on the covers of records and cassettes. And that’s when I also started making my first scratches, with spray cans. The first thing I wrote was ‘Beat Street’, in the street where I grew up: Antero de Quental. I started trying to imitate graffiti and doing things, spreading it around the city,” he recalled.

It was with the “first scratches” on the walls that the name Ace came up, he no longer remembers exactly how or why. At that time “there was nothing” that called him to rap.

It was only later, “probably unconsciously”, that he woke up to rapping at Sunday afternoon matinees in nightclubs. “I was very ‘disco’, and I was an unofficial entertainer, I would go on top of the speakers and wear weird clothes. Some DJs from clubs in Gaia thought I was funny and I would go up to the speakers and playback the rap I was playing over house music,” he shared.

With the video programs that were caught “by accident” on televisions at that time, through satellite dishes, he arrived at two albums that marked him: the first of Public Enemy and De La Soul.

“From then on I never let go of rap, I really fell in love. De La Soul for the joke, for the almost ‘naif’ way they passed the messages. And Public Enemy for the strength, the message, the revolt. I have a rebel inside me that will never die,” he said.

Mind Da Gap have occupied much of the 30 years of his career, the group that began with Presto and was later joined by Serial, and is responsible for one of the albums that marked the history of rap in Portugal: “Sem Cerimónias”, from 1997.

In addition, the group was one of the pioneers of the so-called Porto rap, which paved the way for collectives and artists such as Dealema (Maze, Mundo, Expeão, Fuse and Guze), Keso, Virtus, Berna, Capicua or Conjunto Corona.

Responsible for themes such as “Dedicatória”, “Todos Gordos”, “Bazamos ou Ficamos”, “És onde quero estar”, they toured stages from North to South of the country, also performing at major music festivals.

In 2016, they announced the end of the group’s career. For Ace, Mind Da Gap ending the way they did was “without a doubt” the worst moment of their 30-year career: “The worst thing was that we reached a point where we didn’t understand each other anymore.”

The best thing was that they “managed to win”. “We managed to reach the level we reached, to step on the stages we stepped on, to reach many people, to really touch people with our music. And we opened doors and were an inspiration and reference for so many others who followed”.

Still with Mind da Gap together, in 2003 Ace released his first solo album, “Intensamente”. The rapper’s personal development began to take him to themes that “he couldn’t explore in partnership” and, in addition, he began to create beats, which he never suggested doing in Mind Da Gap because he never felt that was his place in that team.

When he couldn’t “hold out any longer”, he decided to publish “Intensamente”. Twenty years on, the best thing that decision brought him was the feedback he received.

As for the worst, Ace considers that “it ends up being a normal consequence of the passage of time, of the passing of the years”. “I feel that nowadays I don’t have much importance in the medium, besides being completely drowned out by the gigantic amount of ‘rappers’ that exist”.

Although, “obviously”, he is not happy with the fact that “it’s not as important” as it once was, Ace realizes that this has happened “because it’s normal, it’s life, how things happen”. “It’s a consequence of the times”, which today “are completely different” than they were in 1993, when he decided that rap was the way to go.

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