Masta Ace (born Duval Clear) is a rapper from Brooklyn, NY, known for his storytelling capabilities and often heralded as one of the pioneers of New York hip-hop. He is also a member of the rap collective, eMC, formed in 2001 with Stricklin, Wordsworth, and Punchline.
While attending college in the late ‘80s, Ace met Marley Marl, and was given the chance to rap on his 1988 song, “The Symphony.” The track also featured Juice Crew members Craig G, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane, and appeared on Marl’s album In Control, along with two other songs that Ace was featured on.
The following year, Masta Ace released his debut single, and in 1990, released his debut album, Take A Look Around via Marley Marl’s record label. The album was a moderate commercial success and well received within the hip-hop community, as it touched upon pertinent issues like conflict with urban youth, among others.
His sophomore effort—1993’s Slaughtahouse—introduced his crew, Masta Ace Incorporated, which featured EyceUrokk, Lord Digga, Paula Perry, and Leschea. The album spawned Ace’s first Hot 100 hit, which was quickly followed up by a second Hot 100 hit when Ace did the title track of the album soundtrack for Spike Lee’s Crooklyn with Special Ed and Buckshot that same year.
Ace’s 1995 effort, Sittin’ on Chrome, was his most commercially successful album to date, and included Masta Ace Incorporated (also known as The I.N.C.). However, the group went their separate ways following its release. Ace wouldn’t release another album for six years, though he did appear on numerous singles.
To date, Masta Ace has released six solo albums, three albums as part of eMC, and one collaborative album with Ed O.G.