Even though Starvation 4 was supposed to be the last installment of his popular mixtape series, Ace Hood says that he felt he had unfinished business after its drop in November. That’s why he blessed the world with Starvation 5, which he released July 11, four years after the first Starvation mixtape in 2012.

I felt like Starvation 4 was me in the process of actually aligning myself to what ‘Starvation’ is now in the sense of trying something new,” Ace Hood says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “I felt I was a bit unsatisfied and I think the fans would be unsatisfied as well so I decided to double back with Starvation 5.”

The Broward County Boss says he is pleased with the 18-track project, especially because of the fan response. He has gained quite a following in his 10 years in the game and says that on Starvation 5, he is expanding his sound while reaching back to his roots and it seems to bode well with his day-ones.

People are going all crazy all over the Internet about the project,” he says. “They’re excited about it and I think they felt unfulfilled. Me and my team have put together a great project and so I’m very happy about the outcome.”

After the “Category 5” intro that reflects the power of a hurricane, something South Floridians know all too well, the first full-length track on Starvation 5 is “Message to the Label.” On the hook, Ace Hood says that the keys to greatness are “whole lotta hustle and a whole lotta grind and a whole lotta patience.”

It’s what allows me to remain relevant throughout my almost 10 years of being in the game,” he says of those values. “It’s going through the blood, sweat and tears. It’s been the grind and so much of patience, so much of feeling like I’m deserving of a lot more recognition, a lot more attention and awareness. That’s what that was. It was kind of my sense of saying ‘Hey, that stops now.’ This is where the shift happens with new project Starvation 5 and it is happening. It’s just a testament to all that I went through to match that aggressiveness and say ‘It takes a whole lot of progress, a whole lot of hustle and a whole lot of patience in order to endure the trials and tribulations throughout this game.’ It’s my life summed up in a few words.”

Ace Hood put these life challenges on full display on his last commercial LP, 2013’s Trials and Tribulations. Buried among the smash hits “Bugatti” and “We Outchea” was “Hope,” a song that reflects another side of the 28-year-old that he is further revealing on Starvation 5.

My thought process was to uplift myself and uplift the people too,” he says of writing “Hope.” “I was going through phases where I lost my grandmother so for me it was important for me to write that. Just to keep faith and to keep hope that things will work out well and I think that we all needed. So for me it was to, because I know somebody else is going through it, I’m not the only one that lost a loved one or a family member. They try to stay in hopeful spirits that everything is going to be alright. That’s the anchor to your family so I just wrote it on behalf of thinking that, this does something for me releasing it. Putting my emotions and how I feel on paper, but it’s going to do a lot more for the world, for the people that’s actually taking their time to listen to this. It’s going to inspire them, they could be going through their own trials and what not. A record like ‘Hope’ can give you hope through the toughest times, through when you’re actually in darkness and you’re trying to see the light, that’s what hope is. I wrote it hoping that it would inspire people. My story would inspire people.”

On his latest output, Ace Hood balances songs like the Rick Ross-assisted “Go Mode” with the ethereal “Wishful Thinking.” He also pays tribute to Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, and other Black men who were victims of violence on “Black.” Even the singles leading up to Starvation 5 showed the layers of his artistry, from the fierce competition in “4th Quarter” to the introspective “Father’s Day.”

“When I actually create, I create from a place where I have a checklist emotionally to be able to target every emotion that I can,” he says. “From every angle I want you to be able to understand me so you get a mixture of the uplifting record. I want people to feel inspired, I want people to be motivated but in the same token I want to give people knowledge but in the same token I want to give people the flashy and I got to give them the beats and the hard body flow so all that in a pot together is how I actually created this project saying I just want to hit them from every angle. Angles that they’re not even expecting. I want to do something melodic, I want to do something this and I want to do that so it’s just really making sure I’m trying to cross all my t’s and dot every i. For the most part, I had a lot of fun creating the project, but that’s usually how I create when I’m in my space. It’s like alright, if I’m going to do this project I have to capture every emotion in a record that can describe every way of how you’re feeling whether you’re turnt up, whether its knowledge, whether you’re going through something, whether you need an uplift, so that’s how I usually measure it.”

Trials and Tribulations was Ace Hood’s last commercial release on DJ Khaled’s We The Best Music Group, which signed with Epic Records in April. He worked with the label for Starvation 2 and 3, but is now working on his own venture with Hood Nation.

At this point I’m focusing on my situation with my label, which is Hood Nation, and Khaled is focusing on his label so that’s what is happening right now,” he explains.

He is in the process of signing Bruno Mali to Hood Nation. The young rapper is featured on the Starvation 5 track “King Kong” and also appeared on Zoey Dollaz’s Port Au Prince tape.

For me, it’s just that I want to be able to give somebody the same experience that I had,” Ace Hood says of supporting new artists. “For me, it’s not just signing anybody. It’s actually having a connection on a real level but just as much of a beat and just as passionate as I am and progressive about what they do. For me, it’s just being able to give somebody the opportunity that I got and that I have so they can be able to provide for their family and take care of their loved ones and do all these great things and ultimately allow their dream to come true just like my dream came true.”

Ace Hood has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to who he collaborates with. He had production from Metro Boomin and Sonny Digital years ago, before Young Metro’s name ever passed through the desks of the New Balance offices.

On Starvation 5, he introduces the world to United Kingdom producer Scott Styles, who crafted five of the tracks for the project. Ace Hood was introduced to Styles through his engineer.

Every once in a while you get those gems that people hit you up and send you stuff,” he says. “It actually works out when you weed through what’s what. He somehow just linked with him over the Internet, he sent over a couple instrumentals to him and he played them for me. And I was like, man this guy has a unique sound that sounded new, it was refreshing for me. I was intrigued, I was like I would love to do work with him and deal with him. Get on the phone with him and talk about the vision that I want to do. He’s way in the UK and he’s always been a huge fan of mine. He was just on a mission to work with Ace Hood. That made it much more better for me. I could hear the beats and tell him exactly what I want and what I’m looking for and he would send it in. You going to hear a lot more from Scott Styles, he’s going to make an impact.”

Even though he might not be in headlines every day or be credited for game-changing moves, Ace Hood has managed to stay relevant for years in an industry where many artists come and go. In between releasing his own projects, he appears on a range of different tracks from Reek Da Villian’s “Go Off” with Kendrick Lamar and Swizz Beatz and Skinny’s “R$CH,” which also features Skeme.

As he repositions himself as an artist, Ace Hood hopes people relate to him on a more personal level. He doesn’t want songs like “Hope” to be deep cuts for diehard fans, but for everyone to understand him as a man, father and rapper.

I’m nowhere near my peak yet,” he says. “I haven’t reached my peak. This is only the beginning for me and my transition and where I’m going. That’s just me feeling like I’ve been able to slightly recreate myself in a sense each and every time and that way when I drop it feels fresher, it feels new. When you hear my body of work or just a record it’s like a breath of fresh air. So that’s what I would say it’s just being able to stay fresh and growth most importantly throughout the test of time. Years and years of just not staying the same but evolving through those times, learning, growing and giving people available content is what’s kept me going thus far.”