spose spose

The Next Great White Rapper Hails From Wells, Maine

Ryan "Spose" Peters. Though you may not be familiar with his name, you're probably familiar with his current hit, "I'm Awesome"—a self-produced, self-deprecating rap song from his 2009 mixtape, We Smoked It All, that debuted at No. 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart last week and moved more than 33,000 digital downloads to land in the Top 30 on the iTunes Top Songs list. Unfortunately, that's probably just about all you know about the 24-year-old rapper from Wells, Maine—because despite the fact that he recently inked a deal with Universal Republic, Spose has taken the path less traveled when it comes to making his mark. His presence on rap blogs is essentially non-existent, he still lives in Maine, and, outside of a few local press clippings, he's gotten almost no national media attention. So VIBE.com caught up with Spose by phone (where the rapper was kicking it in the parking lot outside of a Taco Bell in his hometown, no less) to find out more about the man behind one of the fastest-growing songs in the country.

 

VIBE: You're at an interesting place in your career right now. You're a rapper with a huge hit song on your hands, but it feel likes a lot of people out there still have no idea who you really are. So let me start by asking this: Who the hell is Spose?
Spose: [Laughs] I've been a full-fledged independent artist since 2006. I've been grinding and doing live shows. I probably did 100 of them per year in Maine the last two years. But I have to be honest: To think a year ago that my song would be Top 30 on iTunes would have been bewildering. I didn’t plan for this. I mean, two months ago, I was delivering pizza and I had just gone back to college to get my English degree at Suffolk University in Boston.

How did you actually start rapping seriously in Maine? It definitely doesn't seem like the ideal place to launch a hip-hop career.
I was in a band in eighth grade in 2000 and they kicked me out because I was too bossy. So I had this dude from my hometown named DJ Food Stamp, who is now the house DJ for UndergroundHipHop.com, who kind of mentored me. He turned me on to a lot of stuff like Dilated People, Jurassic 5, early OutKast, and Jay-Z. I started trying to rhyme myself and I sucked. But I spent all of high school rhyming everyday and by the time I graduated, I had really found my voice as an MC.

Did you have a studio available to you during high school? 
Nope. [Laughs] I recorded most of it right at my mom's house. I had a computer and a Radio Shack mic. It wasn't until my junior year of high school that I ended up recording my first song at a legit studio. I caught the bug and started working on my debut album, Preposterously Dank, which I released in 2007. And then I started touring.

Let's talk about "I'm Awesome." The first thing people recognize is the beat—the xylophone, the accordion, the drums. It's a strange combination. How did you come up with it?
I recorded that in my basement. I did the drums on an MPC and played the keyboard to incorporate the other sounds. I actually borrowed the keyboard from my grandfather. [Laughs] And I ended up only using intentionally corny instruments. It's a pan flute, an xylophone and an accordion. It doesn't get any cheesier than that.

The subject matter is pretty out there, too. The song is called "I'm Awesome" but you're basically making fun of yourself throughout the course of it. Outside of just being a white rapper, it's one of the things that's helped fuel comparisons to Eminem and Asher Roth.
Conceptually, the track was an experiment to see how far I could take it. Though it might not sound like it, the record was a well-thought-out idea on my behalf. It was intentional for me to self-deprecate myself and throw myself under the bus to see how far I could take it, but at the same time, I still wanted it to come across as entertaining and captivating.

How did it end up getting played on the local radio station? 
It's funny. We don't have a rap station in Maine. There used to be one when I was growing up but it disappeared shortly after my first album dropped. So the first time I heard it was actually on a local show called Spinout on 94.3 WCYY, which is the rock station I grew up listening to. They'd never played a rap record, so I didn't even think there was a chance to be on a local show. But once they played it, people started calling in and reacting to it.

Did you think it would become as big as it has become?
Honestly, that cosign was as good as I thought I would do. My hope was that I could use that radio play in my bio and maybe get some shows in New Hampshire or even Boston and push myself as an independent musician, step-by-step. I never thought I was going to climb the ladder to the top, escalator-style, you know? [Laughs]

How did it lead to you signing a deal with Universal Republic in early March?
The record was played on WCYY and was the No. 1 most requested song for like a month. About three weeks into that, a Top 40 station in Portland, Maine called [WJBQ] Q97.9 picked the record up. At that point, my mixtape, We Smoked It All, was also in a local independent store called Bull Moose Music and the initial pressing sold out instantly. So there was this buzz like, 'Who is this kid?' Universal caught wind of how many spins I was getting out of nowhere and called up the radio station to try and find me. They called the record store. They even called my mom's house. [Laughs] Then they finally ended up getting my number and called me like 15 times one day when I was in class in Boston. I was convinced it was somebody trying to collect a bill because I have a lot of those random numbers calling looking for loot that I owe. So I didn't pick up. Finally, I got a text message saying who it was, called them back and they picked up the record.

It's interesting because this isn't how this is supposed to work today. Most successful artists make an impact on rap blogs first and then use that as leverage to get some kind of label deal.
Right, right. Honestly, I would have been elated to see my stuff on NahRight or something like that. If I had proceeded as an independent artist, that is probably the exact route I would have pursued. Dropped some freestyles, dropped a mixtape, and hopefully gotten some props for them. I know the formula. I'm familiar with it. Asher did it, right? But I'm really enjoying flipping the script and doing it the other way.

By bypassing the blogs, you haven't been submitted to the dreaded comment sections of some of those sites. Are you ready for the inevitable wave of hatred coming your way at some point?
I'm prepared for it. It might be different if this had happened to me when I was a stubborn 19-year-old but I'm 24 now and I know how to pick my battles. Trying to please every hip-hop head is impossible. It would be the stupidest thing I could ever do. But, you know, I was satisfied when I could go to the University of Maine and 150 kids came out to see it. So if only ten people appreciate me and my music, cool, I get it. If hundreds of thousands of people appreciate it, cool.

Thanks to your situation, it must feel a little like you hit the lottery right now. What's the biggest thing that’s changed for you in the last month?
I don't feel guilty when I buy Taco Bell anymore. [Laughs] Actually, not a lot has changed. I'm still living in the same house. I just did all the dishes and took out the trash. But it's all happened really fast in a surreal manner so I haven't had a chance to sit back and take it all in.

It has all happened pretty quickly for you.
I used to blaze a lot—and by "a lot," I mean all the time. But ever since this record deal shit happened, I find that whenever I smoke, everything hits me like a big paranoid ton of bricks. It's like, 'I'm going to be on TV and shit!' [Laughs] But as long as I stay in the moment and focus on one task at a time, I don't think I'll get wrapped up in all the nonsense. I don’t want to change. I'm actually thinking about calling my album Happy Medium. As in, 'I don't need to be large with a mansion and my exploits on the news and TMZ.' I'm happy being where I'm at right now: medium.—Chris Yuscavage

Spose's single, "I'm Awesome," is currently available on iTunes. You can also check out his MySpace page here and follow him on Twitter here.

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Watch Snoop Dogg and Legendary Go-Go Band Rare Essence "Hit The Floor"

Dubbed "The Wickedest Band Alive" by Doug E. Fresh, Chocolate City Go-Go legends Rare Essence have been doing their thing for 45 years and counting. Like the late Chuck Brown, Black Heat, the Young Senators, and other stalwarts of Go-Go, the musical subgenre that was officially designated Washington D.C.'s "sound of the city" earlier this year, Rare Essence made their name with marathon live shows featuring funky percussion, hella cowbell, and lots of call-and-response vamping to keeps the dance floor percolating till the break of dawn. Along the way, Rare Essence appeared as Aretha Franklin's backing band in her "Jimmy Lee" music video and hit the charts with their 1992 single "Work the Walls." They've also collaborated with a host of hip-hop superheroes including Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and Biz Markie, not to mention D.C. native Wale.

Back in August 2018, Snoop Dogg posted an Instagram video showing Tha Doggfather smoking to "Hey Buddy Buddy," a signature Rare Essence jam recorded live at Washington D.C.'s Club U. That IG post kick-started a collaboration.

"I approached them like they approached me," Snoop recalled. "I want them to know that I love their music and I love what they stood for and the feeling was mutual. That's why we went right in. It wasn't no management or none of that shit. We just basically made it happen. It was like, What's happenin'? Where y'all at? Where I need to be? Around the alley? Around the corner? OK, I'll pull up."

"Having a hip-hop icon like Snoop Dogg on a song is definitely one of the highlights of our career," said Andre "Whiteboy" Johnson, who co-founded Rare Essence when he was an 11-year-old student at St. Thomas More elementary school in SouthEast Washington. "A lot of bands don't make it to a milestone such as 45 years and to have a song released with Snoop makes this year that much cooler."

Today VIBE proudly premieres the result of their collaboration, "Hit The Floor," on which Snoop jokes about pissing on the White House lawn. (Take that Donald!) The track was produced by Chucky Thompson, whose credits include Craig Mack's "Flava in Ya Ear," Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa," Faith Evans' "Soon As I Get Home," and "One Mic" by Nas. "This has been one of my favorite bands from the beginning," he says. "So this is like a dream come true for me."

During a Black History Month performance earlier this year at Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center, Rare Essence member Jas. Funk revealed that Go-Go music was named after the venues that the bands used to play in. "Just like Smokey Robinson said back in the day." While Go-Go is most definitely a Black music form, the influence of Latin percussion is undeniable. "Music is universal," says Jas. Funk. "[Go-Go] started in the black culture and it kept neighborhoods combined. Just like in the '60s in the Civil Rights era. It was something that kept us bonded together even though they was trying to break it up."

"Go-Go is one of the greatest forms of music ever created and I've always been a fan of it," Snoop adds. "So anytime I can become a part of it and connect the dots and put my voice on it and lend my spirit and my awareness to it, I've always been down with it... I'm honored to be a part of this."

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Courtesy of Biz 3 / FCF

Quavo Is Introducing 'Fan Controlled Football' To The Culture

From their penchant for popping tags and name-dropping designer brands in their rhymes to the obsession with diamond-encrusted neckwear, the Migos are the modern-day poster-children for decadence and opulence. But when it comes to balling, group member Quavo is a seasoned veteran, literally and figuratively. Notorious for his appearances in NBA all-star celebrity games, where he routinely dominates the competition, Huncho has built a rep as one of the athletically gifted hit-makers in music today.

Although he's known for his skills on the hardwood, football is definitely among his passions. His newest endeavor, an ownership stake in Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the first professional sports league to put the viewer in the coach's seat and the general manager's office, in live time, finds him putting his focus back on the gridiron. Having inked an exclusive, multi-year streaming broadcast partnership with Twitch, the FCF will be the first professional sports league to be fully integrated with the streaming platform with the potential to explode in the digital age, where user interest and participation is the main recipe for success.

Having tossed the pigskin around as a Georgia high school football star, to Quavo, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the innovative league on the ground level. “We are building a brand and something different in our league – with the fans. They are in control and get to pick the team names, colors, logos, and more,” said Quavo said in a press release. “I’m really excited because FCF is fast-paced, high-scoring 7v7 football and you are in control. You go from sitting on the couch watching TV and pressing buttons on the remote to actually pressing the buttons on the plays.”

Played on "a 35-yard x 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones,” the Fan Controlled Football league will kick off in February 2021, with a four-week regular season, one week of playoffs, and a Championship week. The league will consist of former elite D-1 athletes, the CFL, XFL, and the Indoor Football League. Broadcasted live from the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta, each game will be 60 minutes in length and will allow the viewers to play a hand in the final outcome on Twitch.

Aside from sports, Quavo has been relatively lowkey on the musical tip as of late, with two years having passed since a solo release or a Migos album. However, according to him, this delay can be considered the calm before the storm, as he assures him and his brethren are primed for one of their biggest years yet. VIBE hopped on the line with Quavo to talk Fan Controlled Football, what he's got cooking in the studio, and his foray into TV and film.

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You're the newest team owner at Fan Controlled Football (FCF). What about the league piqued your interest and made you wanna get involved?

It's just showing my interest in the game of football and just trying to put a twist to where it's fan-controlled, fan-involved. A lot of times we watch the game, you watch the game, you just have some concerns. Sometimes you feel you can make the plays or call the play, [with FCF], you can sit on the couch and make the play. I just think we came together to make something crazy like that. I feel like it's something hard, it's something new, it's something fresh. It's a new beginning to something, like giving ni**as a chance. Giving D-1 players who couldn't make it to the league a chance, giving ex-NFL ni**as a chance if they still got it, [and] to go with the fans. When we saw the Falcons lose the Superbowl LI, we [fans] just knew what plays to call, we knew to run the ball. We were up 28-3. All we had to do was hold the ball, but we wanted to air it out and we made a mistake and lost to Tom Brady. Just like when Marshawn could've won a Superbowl. If they'd have given him the ball on the two-yard line. We knew that Marshawn Lynch was supposed to get the ball, [but] they wanted Russell Wilson to win it and the New England Patriots caught an interception. So that's how we're trying to shape it, we're trying to make something new.

The FCF will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitch, which has become one of the leading platforms for eSports live-streaming and will kick off in February 2021. Do you feel the FCF has the opportunity to fill that NFL void during the spring, particularly given the fan engagement that FCF enables?

Most definitely, cause after the Super Bowl, it just feels like you just want another game. You feel like you want one more game. and coming from something [where it's] eleven on eleven players to seven on seven, I feel [there’s] still a difference. After coming from watching the game and the regular politics, the regular structure of the game, now you're getting to be involved in a game that you can control. You can pick the jersey, you can pick the helmets, you can pick the jerseys, you can pick the coaches, you can pick the plays. I just feel there are two different dynamics [between the NFL and FCF). You come from sitting on the couch and pressing the remote to actually pressing the button on the plays."

Speaking of fan engagement, the FCF is the only professional sports league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time and puts the viewer in control of a game’s outcome like never before. Have you ever had that experience, as far as fantasy football?

Nah, but I'm into Madden. You can sit at home and pick your plays [with FCF], it's just like the lifestyle of Madden. It's like a reality of Madden. You're playing with people at home, with these unique athletes, and it's seven-on-seven.

As an Atlanta native, how significant was the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility being in your hometown in your decision to come on board as an owner?

It's very important. We got top-tier talent here, so it's opening up opportunities for a lot of guys. We're just glad it's in the south, it's like a hub. Everybody loves Atlanta and everybody wanna be here. Everybody wanna play and the weather is good.

NFL Super Bowl Champions Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, boxing legend Mike Tyson, and YouTuber and podcaster empire Greg Miller are among the FCF's team owners. How does it feel to be competing against some of the most accomplished athletes and entertainers in the world? Have you had the opportunity to meet with any of them?

Most definitely. I have a good relationship with Mike Tyson. I've met Marshawn Lynch, it's a blessing. I feel like we're not competing right now, I feel like we're building a brand. I feel like we're building a league. I feel like we're trying to make the world understand what we're bringing to the table and what type of game we bring to the table, you feel me? I feel we're trying to create something different. Once we get the ball rolling, it's all together and moving into a real FCF league, then we'll get to compete. Of course, we all wanna win, but right now, we're just trying to get the foundation and the basics going and letting the strength of the owners and the relationships show on the field.

Being that you'll all be working with your respective fan bases in shaping your team’s personality and identity, any thoughts about what the team’s name will be? 

Man, I wish I did, but it's so straight strictly fans that you never know. Just like with music, can have an idea that is a smash, and then the fans don't think it is. You gotta strictly listen to the fans on this one. You gotta listen strictly to how they want it because it's the point of the game, that's the point of the league. We gotta let them control this game and then we the players and we the people that's listening to the people, the culture. FCF stands for culture, too, you feel what I'm saying? We listen to the culture, we're letting the culture run the field.

How involved will you be in the drafting and scouting process for your squad?

The fans make the draft, fans get to see everything. Open books, everything. It's an open thing, it ain't nothing to hide over here. The fans control it all.

In addition to sports, you've also been delving into acting, with cameos in shows like Atlanta, Star, Black-ish, and Ballers. Earlier this year, you appeared as yourself in Narcos: Mexico. How did that opportunity come about? 

Narcos reached out. We [Migos] had this song called “Narcos” on the [Culture II] album and we went and shot [the video] in Miami and everybody thought it was a Narcos movie scene and it ended up being Madonna's house. So we just shot that there and then they reached out to us. I think Offset had a performance somewhere and Takeoff had to do something and I just ended up being free that day and I went and shot it in New Mexico. I had fun, I loved it.

Do you have plans to pursue any supporting or leading roles in film or television?

Hell yeah, most definitely. I've been sitting down and having real great meetings with directors and people that got some movies in the works for 2021. I feel like I’ve got some good spots. I don't wanna tell it cause they’re gonna make some announcements. It's coming soon.

It's been two years since you've released a solo project or one with the Migos. Can fans expect any new music from you anytime soon and what are your next plans on that front?

Most definitely, hell yeah, we're shooting videos right now. We’re vaulting up a whole lot of videos so we can give you music and visuals at the same time. “Need It," the song came first and then the video. Right now, we wanna get a lot of videos and a lot records in the vault and smash [them] all at once 'cause it's been two years.

Pop Smoke's passing was one of the more tragic events in rap in recent memory, but his debut album, which you appeared on throughout, has been one of the most successful and acclaimed projects of 2020. How has it been seeing how the album’s been received, especially after you and him developed such a bond in a short time?

I'm happy. I'm proud of him, that was my partner. We did a lot of records, we spent a lot of time together and I feel like the album would've did even more with him being alive. A lot of people's album just go crazy when they die, I feel like his sh*t would've still went crazy. He had the momentum, he had the buzz. He was having fun. He was hot, he was fresh, he had everything ready.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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New Music: Alicia Keys, Tiye Phoenix, Marc Rebillet & LA's Problem All Drop Heat

Alicia Keys is back with her full length album, Alicia and the wait has been too long for us in music land. After a four year hiatus, Keys returns and her lead off single with Khalid "So Done" has that AK soul that we love. This album seems to find Keys at her most free, as the pressures of making a hit album is behind her. The piano is her companion and compliments her so well, however, lyrics and the songwriting is what AK prides herself on most. Get with her today at 6pm with American Express as she will perform on Youtube here.

For those that still haven't gotten the memo, let me put it in caps...LA'S DOPE MC, PROBLEM IS A HIP-HOP GREAT! Now that we have that out the way, let's get on the line about how his Coffee & Kush Vol. 2 album is even more introspective and transparent than Vol. 1 which was released earlier this year. The song, "Keep Ya Head" is the perfect soul sonic detail for what we have gone through as a society. Letting the listener know to keep their head on in these trying times, while helping those around you that you care about. It's a step-by-step rule book on how to maintain and raise up others. Visually on point video and album packaging wise (big shout to VIBE contributor Laetitia Rumford on the cover art), Problem has us ready for the upcoming final project of the Coffee & Kush trilogy.

To rise through adversity is to prove to yourself that you are built for the game of life that is really no game at all. That's why when people enter industries that don't mesh with their ideals but the spirit compels them to continue...you have to salute them. So here we have a goddess of an MC in Tiye Phoenix, who earlier this year dropped the illustrious 9-track project, The Master's Program. A woman of many words wrapped in astro-heavy flows, she continues to shed light in the dark spaces of your mind with furious rhymes of deep thought and enlightened spirit. To have her still making music that hits with the power of righteous rebellion is a blessing for us all and it's evident on her latest offering, The Glow EP. From the inspiring opening words, TP proceeds to smash track after track with a strong vocal tone that could rival your hardest voiced male MC yet has a honey tone to make the lessons go down smooth. Peace Queen.

The amount of music that gets released these days is so overwhelming that the joy of listening to such quantity turns to anxiety in trying to catch it all...but what a wonderful problem to have. Like just before trying to write this weekly round up, I ran across an IG post by the Triple OG @ICET. He shared the musical genius of the sometimes shirtless, but usually silk robe rocking @marcrebillet. He's made a name for himself on social media by making up super groovy tunes as the DJ entertainment at restaurants and showcasing his beat building skills in his simple audio set up in his Brooklyn apartment. Get a load of the intensely dope space funk jam (I've had it on repeat for the last 30mins) "You And Me." With a co-sign from the Queen Badu herself, trust that he's one to watch folks.

 

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A post shared by Marc Rebillet (@marcrebillet) on Sep 18, 2020 at 7:05am PDT

 

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