Ace Tee and Aaron Night on Their African Roots, the 90s and Generation Hustle
Ace Tee (@acetee) and Aaron Night (@aaronnight) are two very different people with a few things in common. Both have Ghanaian roots but were raised in Hamburg, Germany. They are creatives who have hustled their way up in their respective careers and they’ve been working with Puma in a very organic way. Ace Tee has risen to international fame with her song “Bist du down?” which went viral and which some are hailing as our generation’s answer to R&B artists like TLC. Aaron Night is an outstanding choreographer and creative director. Besides various international and national titles, he has featured in various music videos showcasing his unique style. For the Cell collection we are meeting the two at an African shop in Hamburg to speak about their roots and more.
Outfit Ace: PUMA x Sankuanz & PUMA CELL Endura x Sankuanz /
Outfit Aaron: PUMA x Sankuanz & PUMA CELL Venom Reflective
Photos by Niculai Constantinescu
Aaron and Ace, this was a special shoot that took place at an African shop in Hamburg. Of course, this was no coincidence because you both hail from Ghana. Was that an immediate connection between you two?
Aaron: Ghana is definitely where my roots are. My mother once said, “In order to know where you’re going to, you have to know where you are coming from.” And being from Ghana, our heritage, is what makes us so exotic in Germany. The location for this shoot, the African shop, is real. It’s where a lot of Africans meet on a daily basis, and it makes you feel right at home.
Ace: Aaron and me, we are very different people, but we share a deep connection. I think it was the reason why we were able to get this shoot done so well with all the ideas and the look. It was just a perfect match. I guess you can call it Ghanaian vibe. Ghana is where I’m from, even though I was born in Germany. I always say I’m from Hamburg, Ghana, Germany, in that order. People think that is funny. Well it is, but it’s also real to me.
Like many creatives you hustled your way up – Ace as a singer, Aaron as a dancer. Would you consider yourself as part of “generation hustle”?
Ace: I’m most definitely a hustler. I’m the blueprint of “generation hustle” – you all don’t even know the half! I come from a low-income family – I had to hustle for everything I got.
What’s your definition of a hustler, Aaron?
Aaron: Someone who never stops believing in himself and trusts in his inner strength and ability, no matter what. For a hustler, there are no problems, just challenges. Failing is part of life and the importance is to get back up. I learned so much from doing street shows. It has shown to me that with the right amount of energy and motivation you can achieve anything.
Music is part of both of your lives. Can you describe some of the most important influences?
Ace: When it comes to music, my role models are more from the US. There were lots of producers and artists we all loved growing up, from Michael Jackson to Queen Latifah or even Pharrell, who made me produce my first beats…
Aaron: I think the 90s have always influenced me. My brother showed me the videos by Dru Hill, LL Cool J and 2Pac. Basically, before going to school we always tuned in to Viva or MTV to see the latest music videos. Because my dad was a DJ, we always had music on at home. He was into 70s and 80s stuff like James Brown, Stevie Wonder or Michael Jackson.
Ace: The 90s have definitely shaped me, although I was clearly too small to remember everything from the time. But the style has stuck to me. But what I wanna say is this: it’s funny to me, but people think I only listen to 90s music – that is just not real. On the one hand, I like to stand for it, but on the other hand, never put me in a box.
What’s more important: talent or hard work?
Aaron: I think you need both. But there are enough examples of people that have reached their goals through hard work and without talent. In my case, I think I wouldn’t be where I am today just because of my talent. No matter how gifted you are, you have to earn your success and respect.
You’ve both been working with Puma for a while. Can you tell us what the brand means to you?
Ace: Puma always had a connection to Africa. Or at least not with the typical American black athletes. I remember the Cool Runnings movie and found out that Puma was the sponsor. There’s also Usain Bolt… Puma always had great black athletes and not only the biggest stars. That made it special for me.
Aaron: I really dig Puma, especially for their collabs with Diamond Supply, Han Kjøbenhavn, Fubu etc. I even wore Pumas before we worked together. This is something that maybe not everybody knows, but in the world of dancers, Puma is THE brand. That’s why I made my first steps in Suedes – and never regretted. Believe me, some brands won’t last the beatings of my street shows.
This shoot was for the new Puma Cell collection. How do you rate the stuff, especially the footwear?
Ace: I will be honest. I saw the Cell a few months back, and I fell in love with it. I told Puma, “I need this one to be mine,” and when it came out I saw bloggers from the US wearing them and I did not have them. I was mad! I never had that with any other sneaker. I begged Puma to send me my Cells, and when they finally came I was a happy girl. Aaron: I love that it’s going “back to basics”. I think Puma has also heard what my mom was saying: “In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’re coming from.” I really dig the style because I’m a 90s kid.
Ace, your music is full of optimism and good vibes. But you mentioned that you haven’t always felt that way and have had phases of negativity. Is it important to fall down just to learn to get back up?
Ace: Well that’s life isn’t it? It’s all a circle, and ups can just come from downs. What is important to me is that I do positive stuff. I would say I grew up around street kids and gangsters, but for me it’s so sad that everybody in German rap is talking about the same things. Just because we experienced a lot of stuff does not mean that we only need to talk about that.
What does social media mean to you?
Ace: I only use Instagram, and – as my management says – I’m not really good at it. I know what pictures will have a lot of likes and when I have to post them. But at the end it’s a vibe for me. I know it’s important, but I’m not the biggest fan of it.
Aaron: I love the ability to share my thoughts, opinions and experiences. But I think people shouldn’t drown in this social media world, which does happen to a few people. All these things, including Netflix, steal a lot of life time that you might want to spend elsewhere.
Ace and Aaron, thanks heaps for this interview. Any last words?
Ace: Don’t believe the hype, and don’t spend all your money on it if you don’t have it. Spending $500 on shoes should be a once in a year thing, not two times a month. Also, to all the artists getting free stuff, take care of your people.
Aaron: Spread more peace and love!