Fans know Ace Patterson as hip-hop artist Call Me Ace, an independent performer who drops positive lyrics. By day, Patterson is a consumer marketing operations manager at Facebook. “I’m living my dream in a way that I couldn’t have imagined,” he says.
Patterson’s third full-length album, Airplane Mode, debuted last March at #3 on iTunes and #50 on the Billboard hip-hop album sales chart. His songs are personal, many about overcoming adversity to succeed.
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Patterson grew up in Bridgeport, Conn., with two siblings and an artistic yet, at the time, unemployed mother. In elementary school, his family was homeless for a time. But his mom encouraged him to never stop dreaming. He began rapping in middle school because the poetry awards he was winning weren’t seen as cool within his inner-city community.
At Columbia University, Patterson studied anthropology, never considering a career in business until a missionary trip to Colombia changed his mind. “A pastor was using business to teach folks who were recovering from drug addiction, domestic violence, or incarceration—and giving them a vocation,” he says. “It made me see how business can be used for good.”
Determined to merge business and community empowerment, Patterson enrolled at Haas. Now, at Facebook, he manages campaign resources for both the Messenger and WhatsApp marketing teams.
As for his music career, a sense of purpose drives Patterson.
“I believe that I’m called, and I have a message that actually inspires and motivates people,” he says. “I love to entertain but I also love to inspire and if I can do that through this platform—that’s my desire for growing it.”