Photo by Sofija V.
* SPNDA recently released a new single in “Sweet Chin Serenade.” REKS joined the young talent on the The Rah Intelligence produced cut, which serves as the lead single for his forthcoming album, Light Skinned, due out November25th.In an Arenaexclusive, SPNDA talks all about that, and much more.
Arena: You’re part of Retrospek, a hip-hop trio that features emcee JuneLyfe, producer Rah Intelligence and yourself. In summer of 2013, XXL selected you guys as one of 15 Boston Rappers You Should Know. While you still make music together, for the last year and a half, you’ve gone the solo route, releasing a number of solo projects like The Jeffrey and Cornrows & Babyhairs EP. What made you decide to go the solo route? career?
SPNDA: Everyone knows us as a collective but people don’t know our individual talents. We are all individual artists who come together to form something greater. I think everyone should also have an opportunity to show themselves in that light. We’re also in a creative mode where we are all working and sometimes in different directions or ideas but still want to put out the material. It’s a chance for us to follow ideas that might not fit for the group and do our own thing. In the same time, JuneLyfe released and Rah released solo projects and have more in the works. Since we came in as a group, we already have a team so it’s dope to have my brothers support what I am doing and vice-versa.
Arena: How was your A3C experience? Tell me all about it.
SPNDA: It was dope. I feel like I learned a lot, not only from the trip itself, but the group of artists I took it with. It gave me a chance to chill with other artists from my own city and get to know them in a different light. One of the best parts was being around artists I am a fan of, who I have looked up to and being given the shot to be on the same level as them, to be one of their peers. That was very humbling. I got to work with these cats. There was a lot of music created down. In fact, an entire album was created that lays the groundwork for future collaborations.
Arena: You’ve been on tracks with a range of artists out of the Boston area like REKS, Dua of Bad Rabbits, Real P, and much more. Who is your favorite artist to work with?
SPNDA: Its hard to call favorites. I work with a lot of artists and producers out here. From my own Cool Collective Reps / Scope Music family, I work with cats like Dua, Catch Wreck, EvillDewer and am currently cooking up some stuff with OTO. I have a lot of work with the Jungle Club (Kae Tea, J. Howell and Sir Locksley), and a yet-to-be named group consisting of myself, REKS, Moe Pope, The Arcitype, and others. My attitude is I’m just an artist and anybody willing to create dope shit, I’m down.
Arena: At the end of November, you’re going to release your new album, Light Skinned. What’s behind the album title?
SPNDA: The obvious answer is because I’m light skinned, but it’s more or less taking what used to be an insult or name I was called — I have literally had my name reduced to “lightskin” at one point in time — and putting my own spin on it. This is a joke that has been consistent in my life. There are many times I have faced being stereotyped and prejudged for being the light skinned guy before getting the chance to express myself or my own identity. This project is about that and the broader way we judge each other. It was a way to fight off the stigma of the light skin guy and “make light” of the whole idea that you can know what someone is like or has been through because of how they look.
Arena: The promotion for Light Skinned has been quite interesting. Instagram has been one of your main tools. You’ve photoshopped your face onto numerous familiar album covers, movie posters and other things of that sort. What gave you this idea and how effective has it been?
SPNDA: Another myth amongst us light skins is that we all look alike so I figured why not put my face on any substantial light skin figure in pop culture, since we all look alike. Almost every example is a joke someone has made at one time or another about me. We started with the people I named on “Al B Sure” and built from there. It has definitely gotten a lot of attention because it gives people another aspect of my personality. In this day and age, people want more than the music. They want to know you and this was a joke we could all share. We have since begun transforming other people into light skinned gods, including Rah Intelligence and Malcolm J. Gray, who we do a live demonstration of the process with.
Arena: Let’s talk about the actual music. What can listeners expect to hear on Light Skinned?
SPNDA: Sonically, a very traditional sound, very chop and loop driven. Its very minimal on drums. It’s definitely a smooth listen. We worked hard on consistency and arrangement. Conceptually, it is an experience in itself. I was able to channel a lot of my personality into a lot of the content this time around because I was touching on such a personal topic. I never went too deep but it was definitely more personal than I usually get. Expect gritty vocals and the traditional cassette tape experience. Yes, we are trying to make that happen too.
Arena: What was the recording process like?
SPNDA: Comfortable. It was basically all done in Rah’s house which is where we created a lot of the Retrospek material. I was already in a familiar work environment and so was he. Most sessions were in the morning. Rah would have his coffee and still be in his robe, I would bring the weed. We’d get busy.
Arena: What tracks do you think fans will respond to the best?
SPNDA: I could be totally wrong because I never get this right but “Vice Grips.” For really gritty underground heads I think they’ll like “Understand”. For the romantics there’s “Scapegoat”. Its hard because I feel like there is a record for everybody.
Arena: What do you have planned for 2015?
SPNDA: I have at least two solo projects planned for 2015, both with local producers — Grubby Pawz, Jungle Club. But I am always open to and working on other stuff with other people so I’m not sure how all of that may unfold. Stay tuned!