Florida rapper Yungeen Ace moved from one struggle to the next as his difficult childhood led to a tumultuous life in music. One of 12 brothers, he had a surprisingly isolated upbringing and turned to music and street life in his teenage years. He began releasing his solo tracks online in March 2018, and after only a few months of his pained, tumultuous songs building a buzz, he was involved in a drive-by shooting that took the lives of his brother and two friends. He released his debut mixtape, Life of Betrayal, in the wake of this tragedy. His mix of melodic and traditional styles arrived in a rapid string of subsequent mixtapes — Life I’m Livin (2018), Can’t Speak on It (2019), Step Harder (2020), Don Dada (2020) — before the rapper landed a viral hit in 2021 with a street-driven flip of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” His debut album, Life of Betrayal 2x, was released later that year, followed by Survivor of the Trenches in 2022.
Born Keyanta Bullard in 1998, Yungeen Ace spent his early years in Chicago but relocated with his family to Florida in early childhood. Living in Jacksonville, Bullard experienced daily struggles with abject poverty and a desperate environment, surrounded by danger and street crime as he entered his teenage years. He began writing and recording solo tracks, releasing his debut single, “No Witness,” in March 2018. Several other singles would follow, but these bright beginnings were darkened in June of that year when Yungeen Ace and several friends were attacked in a drive-by shooting in Jacksonville when leaving dinner. He survived multiple gunshot wounds but would be the only person to make it out of the altercation alive in a group that included his brother Trevon Bullard, and friends Royale Smith, Jr. and Jercoby Groover.
Immediately following the shooting, legal troubles put the rapper under house arrest, and his debut mixtape, Life of Betrayal, arrived in August, with Life I’m Livin arriving later that year. The first collection included newer songs inspired by his tragic losses — the standout track “Wanted” featured a cameo from YoungBoy Never Broke Again — and earlier singles like the JayDaYoungan collaboration “Jungle.” He teamed up with Boosie Badazz, Lil Durk, and others in 2019 for the 16-track Step Harder. Led by the single “Heartbroken,” the Don Dada mixtape marked Ace’s first major work of 2020. A prolific array of singles like “Withdraw from Life” and “Fighting Pain” carried him into 2021, which yielded “Opp Boyz” and “Gun Em Down.” The rapper found one of his most unconventional successes in 2021′s “Who I Smoke,” which sampled Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” for a disrespectful anthem. His full-length debut album, Life of Betrayal 2x, arrived later that year. 2022 saw the release of Survivor of the Trenches, which featured appearances by Rob49, FastMoney Goon, GMK, Real Boston Richey, and more. ~ Fred Thomas