"The concept behind this record is: Just whatever you may do or whatever you do in life, what you choose to do, really go hard at it," Ace told MTV News. "I felt like I was in a circumstance at that point in time in my life where I felt like it's either this or that. OK, what are you going to do when your back [is] against the wall? I felt like [the] only thing I could do is hustle hard. Soon as I laid it down ... it came out crazy."
The "Hustle Hard" remix features Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. Rappers including Maino, Young Jeezy and Joell Ortiz have created their own versions of the song, using its relentless, Lex Luger-produced beat. But according to Ace, it was a leaked version of the song that included a Rick Ross verse that prompted the quicker release of its official remix.
"The remix always [included] Rick Ross and Wayne," Ace explained. "But I had it in the can. My hook and Ross' verse, that's the only thing that leaked. So being that that version leaked, I was like, 'Ya know what? I might as well put the Wayne part since Ross is a part of the remix.' Why not? I had to give it to them early. It ended up being huge."
Ace Hood, who is signed to Def Jam via DJ Khaled's We the Best imprint, retreated from the spotlight after releasing his sophomore album, Ruthless, in 2009. The rapper wanted to figure out his direction as an artist and felt compelled to assert that he wasn't getting over simply because he was Khaled's artist.
"I was just really trying to find my niche," he said. "What's really going to make the people accept Ace Hood? I've always created good music, the hit records. People know me from ... being a part of 'Out Here Grindin'.' I always created that motivational music: the 'Overtime's, the 'Champion's. For that time being, I was really in the dungeon."
Now back on the grind, videos for both official versions of "Hustle Hard" have been created.
Ace potentially has the hit record that he hopes proves he belongs with rap's top-shelf artists.
"I just wanted to show people that I was able to do this on my own and that I am capable of creating records of this caliber," Ace said. "I was just happy to see the reaction from the people that, ya know what, the same format and the same mind frame I was in when I created this 'Hustle Hard' record, people are in that same state of mind and they understand the struggle that I been through within the rap game."
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