interview MELLOW MAN ACE (November 2008) | Interview By: Jonathan Hay & Chad Kiser

   Everybody knows that Mellow Man Ace is a legend – and an original member of Cypress Hill, who left to pioneer the Latin hip-hop world, to cross over into the US and sell millions of records worldwide. His record-breaking classic single “Mentirosa” gave birth to a completely new genre of successful music now categorized as “Reggaeton.” As Mellow Man Ace put it in this Dubcnn exclusive interview, “The importance of the song Mentirosa is much like that of Roberto Clemente or Jackie Robinson’s influence on modern day athletics in terms of what they did for blacks and Latino's in major league baseball.”

His staggering success is documented in the history books forever; however, we go where no interview has ever gone before with Mellow Man Ace. We travel beneath the surface as Mellow personally opens up and exposes the transparency of his inner self – as we feel the hurt and tears from the Latino struggle, to own personal struggles, including the pain and conflict with his own flesh and blood brother, SenDog (from Cypress Hill). We speak on deep social issues such as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the industry, Politics – or as he calls them “Politricks” -- and even Marijuana…

This interview reveals the truth and vulnerability that many people are afraid to show. It doesn’t get any more real than this…it also doesn’t get anymore West Coast than this interview. It’s an honor for Chad and I to be a part of this historic conversation for Dubcnn.

As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave feedback on our forums or email them to haywire@dubcnn.com.

Interview was done in November 2008

Questions Asked By: Jonathan Hay & Chad Kiser
Dubcnn Exclusive – Mellow Man Ace
A Dubcnn Exclusive
By Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser

Dubcnn: You are an original member of Cypress Hill, yet you went solo before the group's debut. What was the decision for that, and what is your current status with the group?

I went solo because I was living in the streets and [going] from place to place because of family disagreements that forced me to grow up sooner than I expected to. In and amongst those times, it became clear to me that I had a different calling than that of Cypress Hill, and that [I] was to become the first solo Latino based emcee to blow up spots on behalf of all Latin's in Hip Hop.
My current status with the group is weird, because when I left my children's mother, my brother Sendog decided to roll with my ex instead of with his own blood, like I supported him through his ugly divorce so we haven't spoken since May of 08.

Dubcnn: Was their ever a time in your life when you regretted that departure?

My only regret in life has been not pursuing my dreams and goals of becoming a major league
baseball player, so the answer to the question is an emphatic NO, not really. I am more than proud of my accomplishments on behalf of my people and the overall growth of the Latin influence on modern day culture. Here is a small list for those who may not know.... [I am] the first Latin based emcee to go both Gold and Platinum in the US and Mexico, with four Gold and two Platinum plaques for sales. I was inducted in the West Coast Hip Hop Hall of Fame, 1 Legends Award and I will stop there, but I am still adding to my collection of achievements.

Dubcnn: What does it mean to you and how does it make you feel to be a part of history with Cypress Hill's honoring with other notable legends and icons during the VH-1 Hip-Hop Honors?

As far as the Hip Hop Honors go, I am very happy for my brother and the rest of the group. I am personally proud to know that I helped contribute to the success of their group, but it was really a lot of their hard work and I am glad that the music industry recognizes some sort of Latin's at all, as we have been swept under the Hip Hop rug for many, many years. Now that Cypress has been acknowledged, maybe it will open some very well needed doors that have been shut to open on behalf of all the others who have been under appreciated and forgotten about like African history such as Kid Frost, A Lighter Shade Of Brown, Big Pun, The Beatnuts, Delinquent Habbits, Funkdoobiest, The Mexicans, Psycho Realm, Fat Joe, myself and countless others.

Dubcnn: When you were working on Mentirosa, did you have a feeling at the time that it would be such a smash?

While working on Mentirosa - - no, I had no idea the song would open so many doors, or that it
would force pop radio to include music being created by Latin's to their regular rotations. The importance of the song Mentirosa is much like that of Roberto Clemente or Jackie Robinson influence on modern day athletics in terms of what they did for blacks and Latino's in major league baseball. We were able to create an entire section in records stores and gave birth to an entire genre of music with [just] one song. How powerful is that? The importance of my song Mentirosa is that is also gave birth to Reggaeton, which is the cousin of Latin Hip Hop, so I am still considered a prominent entity amongst Latin's worldwide.

It’s now been almost 20 years later and Mentirosa is a classic that will forever stand the test of time because of two main reasons. (1) is the genuine love that Latino's worldwide have for the song in terms of what it did for all of us in this business and (2) for its originality that so many have built their own careers from, whether or not they want to admit it to themselves or not. All these years later, what's most important for people to note or remember is that one day many years ago, the formula didn't exist, and it was my job and calling from God to be creative enough to layout the foundation for all those who were to come after me. So as many of you wake up today with your dreams, goals and visions of being like myself, Mellow Man Ace, Kid Frost, Cypress Hill or any other group, please realize that you have been given a gift, but the ones who started this Latino hip hop movement should be respected and held in high regards.

Dubcnn: With the song, Mentirosa – did you have any problems clearing the Santana sample?

The sample clearance for Mentirosa was not an issue, as Capitol Records had plenty of cash to pay the woman who controlled the body of work for "Evil Ways” and “Ain’t Got Nobody" performed and written by the great Rock Legend Carlos Santana. The sample was cleared for 45,000 and the rest is Hip Hop history that has yet to be acknowledged by the MTV's or BET's of the world mostly, so as Latino's our struggles to be recognized by the mainstream continues on.

Dubcnn: With 20 years in the music, what has changed for better or worse for hip-hop?

The changes in the music industry are inevitable due to modern technologies that have changed the way artists create music and the consumer’s way to obtain the work from their favorite artists. The concerns are many and the cancers are widely spread to the point of no return, so it seems. So as an artist, one must continue to be even more creative and must think out of the box a lot more.

If a young, up & coming artist still believes that he or she will be getting a multi-million dollar record deal that would have them give up a huge amount of points on the backend side of their release in return for a huge advance, then he or she is plain crazy, as those types of deals are very few and far between anymore and are not as realistic for your average rapper of Latin decent as it once was.

Dubcnn: From a strictly lyrical standpoint – what do you consider to be your best song to date?

My best song to date, from a lyrical standpoint has to be "Ten La Fe" produced by DJ Muggs, because of the songs importance to my personal life's demons and struggles when times were tough and no one was there for me, but myself and the darkness. The song was featured in the film Crazy Beautiful and I have never performed it because I fear breaking into tears while on stage. I know that may sound soft to most who are reading this interview, but I am not ashamed of it, even so as I know who I am as a man. Something your readers may not know about me and maybe even some of their favorite artists is that this business makes most good artists very insecure and unsure of who is after us for personal gain or a genuine friendship. This is why most rappers will seldom bring their wives and children to concerts and performances for the fear of losing what we have worked so hard to obtain, a loving support team that will be there for us in times of failure and disappointment.

Dubcnn: What is the biggest difference artistically -- between being on such a powerhouse label like Capital, and being independent…?

Pro's and Cons… The biggest (pro) or difference artistically between a major like Capitol and an indie like Latin Thug - - is that there is NO creative content issues. The (con) is that marketing and promo dollars are non-existent.

Dubcnn: Do you and your brother Sen Dog have any plans to release another Reyes Brother’s project? If so, who will be handling the production & what kinds of collaborations can we look forward to?

In terms of me and Sen Dog doing another record, well let’s just say NO!!! I have very little good to say, so I will say nothing at all, except that I am day and he is the night... how's that?

Dubcnn: Are you involved with the new Cypress Hill project?

I co-wrote some new songs for B-Real's new solo album and co-wrote almost half of Sen Dog's solo album when times were not so cloudy and blurred by one-sided opinions, but as far as Cypress Hills new release, no. I was however brought in at first, but as the creative process began, my opinion on certain songs was not appreciated, so I decided it would be best to walk away from it and just focus on my projects. No harm, no foul…

Dubcnn: Funny question… Being bi-lingual, do you dream in Spanish or English?

Dreams - - that's a great question; the answer is I dream in both languages, but mostly in ingles *laughing*.

Dubcnn: Speaking of dreams, what was your original dream for yourself, or your original career path?

Childhood Goals - - My boyhood dreams and career of choice was to become a major league baseball player.

Dubcnn: During this election year, where do you, as a Cuban-American stand with the current election decision?

Politricks… Because I am a legal resident, not a citizen of this country I am not allowed to vote, but still must pay taxes (the ying and the yang, I guess). But if I did have a vote, I would have voted for Barack Obama and everything it stands for in terms of the potential in overall growth and mental maturity of a country where race is overrated.

Dubcnn: Cypress Hill has a long-standing perspective that marijuana should be legalized. In your travels around the world, why do you think America has such a reverse thinking towards the legalization of marijuana, as compared to other countries?

Because it all boils down to money, and money is what our country is all about, my answer has to be no.... I'll make myself clearer...If you and I started growing bud in our back yards, then turn around and sold our crops for profit, it’s called tax-free revenue. Our government couldn't cash in on it, so our government won't allow it to happen. However, what the US Government fails to see or realize is that if we all grew our own crops, there will be no one to sell it to because who buys something they already produce themselves ? It would be the same as me purchasing my own record from myself, what sense does that make?

Dubcnn: Tell us about your current projects?

My current projects are Mellow Man Ace Presents La Familia, which is a series of compilation records designed to give up & coming talent distribution deals on Latin Thug Records/ KOCH. Artist such as Alkatraz, from Inglewood, Real Estate from Downey, Solow13 from Bakersfield, Krue from Seattle, Amanda T from CA, Los Pachecos from Spain, Stalyn in Canada, Wol Street I.E., D~Infamous from Hawthorne, DJ Muze from the Netherlands and many more have come on board and have gotten distribution deals, so I am very proud to be affiliated with them all.

I am also finishing my next body of work entitled Die On My Feet, produced by Shysti. [It is] 18 songs about everything that makes me who I am and the upside down market we all are forced to live in. It also speaks on many other issues that exist in modern day culture. The album is accompanied by the film entitled simply titled, Mellow Man, which starts production in the 1st quarter of 2009. It is written by Jesse Perez, a first time writer and is co-written by myself.

In April of this year, I was appointed Chairman of the Board of the Latin Rap Conference, a conference devoted to the preservation of the Latino Influence on Modern Day Culture, so I am currently working with founder Jesse Perez, Tony Touch, Pop Master Fabel, Johnny Juice and many others to bring you the 2008 Latin Rap Conference which will be held Nov 18th - 21st here in Los Angeles.

Dubcnn: How did you meet producer Ciscoe – and how would you describe his production sound?

I met Young Ciscoe on the MySpace network, which everyone knows very well. His production style is well beyond his years and best of all, he's more well-rounded than many seasoned veterans here in the states, I will say no names.

Dubcnn: What are your personal expectations for your new album?

My expectations for my next body of work is simply that my fans appreciate what I have created for them and anything thing after that will be icing on the cake.

Dubcnn: What do you think about the West-Coast hip-hop scene right now, and what do you think needs to be changed?

The West Coast hip-hop scene is alive and well, but one of the things wrong with it - is that certain record company's and certain radio stations have pulled away from truly supporting its own West Coast artists. Again, the cancers are many in this tricky business, it has become an industry where the radio DJ is now the star with the club engagements and on air promoting himself, instead of the artist and the music he is paid to play. But that's just the tip of the iceberg that West Coast artists have hit in the middle of the night, much like the Titanic. Others may disagree and lay the blame solely on the lack of promotion dollars which artist are given in this economic crunch. but again, the cancers are too many to just lay blame on one certain thing. There are other factors, but I will end there.

Dubcnn: What are your personal views on religion, or your own personal beliefs or faith?

I am a born again Christian who prays to the Almighty God and his only begotten son Jesus Christ. I also believe, that as humans, the choice is yours to make, but for Mellow Man Ace, God is my God and Jesus Christ is my brother by the blood he shed on the cross for my sins. So hate it or love it, I really could care less.

Dubcnn: Any final words for our readers here at Dubcnn?

I never have any final words as I am not facing a firing squad, Praise God (laughing…)

Dubcnn: In closing, your works speaks for itself and you a true man of integrity. You have elevated the music business and raised the bar for recorded music. It is truly and honor and a blessings to do this interview with you.

Jonathan, thank you for your final comment, my man, because as an artist and a man who makes music, it is important to feel and receive that love for our craft. So again, thank you sir. Peace and Blessings.



Enter Your Email Address > To Receive Our
Free Newsletter!