Spit Gemz Interview
Featuring raw lyrics with a delivery that’s equally undercooked, Spit Gemz lives up to his name, whether he’s rocking with some of the top newcomers or getting down with Stu Bangas for an album. Read up on this dope talent as we catch him for a second on his meteoric rise.
2013 was a breakout year for you in terms of dropping quality music and gaining fans. What stands out for you about this past year?
I think the overall reception to my album title Fuck the Radio. For people to receive it the way they did and I’m cursing in the title and opposing the powers that be in the title, that’s kind of dope.
Did you separate yourself from the multitude of new artists vying to be heard?
I believe I did. Yeah, I believe I did. I kind of went my own path. There’s a lot of things I turned down, a lot of situations I could have been involved in but I decided not to jump on the bandwagon with. There’s a lot of templates in this industry now where people are like, ‘You gotta do this, that, and this to get to this.’ We just stuck to our own guns and did what we wanted to do.
How do you determine when a situation is something you want versus passing on something?
Well, you know, it’s a roll of the dice, man. You might turn something down and then the next month it might not seem like the greatest decision. I feel like with me, myself, and the direction I’m heading in, I’m focused on the craft a lot as opposed to the cameras and glitz. It’s gonna last a lot longer. It’s not disposable. I’m not making records for the moment. I’m making records for eternity, and that’s going to give me a foundation.
What kind of reception did you get to the title Fuck the Radio and did anyone try to get you to change it before it dropped?
Yeah, everybody tried to get me to change it. My manager tried to get me to change it when I first brought it to him. I’m very stubborn and that’s what it is. There was never a chance of me changing it. My manager told me we were shooting ourselves in the foot, but my whole thing was, ‘So what? Everybody else is trying to get somewhere that doesn’t even exist, so let’s focus on what we want to do and just have faith in it’ and we ran with it.
Aside from that, my team, Broken Home, they kind of embraced it from the beginning. They understood what it was about. It gets misconstrued. Some people think I’m saying Fuck the Radio as an attack on the radio. It’s just an answer to what people say when they tell me I gotta make records for the radio. It’s not an attack on the radio and me hoping they collapse and never work again. That’s not what it is. I grew up on the radio and there were times in my life when the radio was a marvelous thing. It’s not that anymore. It’s more or less a tool now. I’m not down at the radio station, waiting outside the building to beat people up and shit. That’s not what it is. I’m just saying that you don’t necessarily need the radio in 2014.
The album had a very consistent, dirty vibe. How’d that come together?
The most important theme throughout the making of that album was just the lyrics, making sure that everybody came and showed their ass, and that the lyrics were up to par. That’s what was the most important for me. The other important thing was a non-format. I didn’t want 16s and choruses. I just wanted it to be organic. Whatever it needed to be, that’s what it was. I wanted it to be a reflection of what was going on at that time. Over in the Goblin Studios and Broken Home Studios, we had jam sessions and we just wrote and were attacking. It was real organic and I just wanted to maintain that throughout. I didn’t want no expectations, like it had to be this way. I wanted it to be what it was and it came out dope.
Is that how most of your music comes together?
Yes. Most of it is very organic, very natural. There are times when I’ll say what kind of song I want to do and I’ll kind of guide my abilities towards that. But the moment is everything. Fortunately and unfortunately at the same time, I’ve dealt with a lot of turmoil in my actual life. There hasn’t been any lack of motivation or inspiration. It’s just been organic, man, and I’m very comfortable with that process. I like the fact that it’s a natural thing.
What motivates you when you go in to start working on a song?
I believe the driving force for me to want to record is awareness, man. I grew up my whole life on hip-hop. It always was my life and it alway was what it was. A lot of people got into it at a certain age and there’s nothing wrong with that, but my joint is kind of different. I was born into it and surrounded by it. What I noticed as the culture started growing was that a lot of people were unaware to what it meant to be skilled or what it meant to provide some knowledge along with a funky melody and a cool rhythm. I noticed a lot of people weren’t too hip to that and with the advent of super-pop and all that, less and less people were gravitating towards lyricism. I think that’s what stood out to me and was dear to me and I wanted to make sure that that was a tradition that was upheld and carried on. In my journeys I’ve clung to that a lot.
You recently ripped it on Showoff Radio and Talib Kweli gave you props, and Sean Price gave you props on Twitter. What does that mean to you?
It means the world to me, especially coming from those two because these are dudes that I’ve always looked up to from the very beginning. As soon as I came across their music, it was always a high respect thing. So to get praise from dudes like that, man, it means the world and it’s great, great inspiration. It makes my pen move a lot, man, for sure.
You and Shaz Illyork have done some great work as The Opposition. Are you guys still doing that?
Unfortunately, no, we’re not working together. The project that we did do together will always remain a classic to me. It was like a training camp for the both of us over at Goblin Studios. But people just grow as artists and as individuals. I very highly doubt that there will ever be another Opposition album, but big ups to Shaz, he’s an ill artist. People just grow apart, man.
Do you guys have a lot of unreleased music?
After we put the first one out, there were quite a few songs left. Me and that dude worked a lot. We would do six or seven songs a night and incorporate as many people as we could. The experience is dope. There were a lot of songs left over. I’m pretty sure most of them will never come out.
Looking at the whole circle of artists, like J-Love, Meyhem, Action Bronson…What do you learn being around artists like that?
From Meyhem Lauren, I learned how to be humble and how to remain patient with things. J-Love is also an exceptional artist, man. Just being around them, you soak up some information. We had some real epic studio sessions and situations we were involved in. And from Action, I learned how to keep that momentum going. There was no stopping with that dude, ever. From the first time I met him, he was just focused and dedicated and on the go, 24/7. That was inspiration that I picked up. There is no stopping and there is no resting. You just gotta keep going, man.
You’re working on Masters of the Universe with Stu Bangas, who appeared on Fuck the Radio. How did you guys turn that into a project?
Actually we were in agreement to do the full-length project before the album even dropped. It’s a crazy story, actually. Blaq Poet did a song with Stu Bangas called “Movie Villains.” I had heard the instrumental at the studio of a friend of mine’s. This was 2010. I had never met Stu or Blaq Poet. I didn’t even know who’s beat it was at that time. We were writing to it and it was some sick shit. It was tailor-made for me. I wind up stumbling across the beat again and I wasn’t so familiar with Stu Bangas’ work but I had heard his name before. I recorded a song and I named the song “Villainous.” I didn’t want to name it “Movie Villains Freestyle.” I did my own version to it and then I actually recorded and shot a video for it. I sent the video to Stu Bangas and I told him I was going to release it no matter what, but I just wanted to know if he wanted me to write “Beat by Stu Bangas.” I wouldn’t say “Produced by Stu Bangas,” but I would give him credit. He said I killed it and to put “Beat by Stu Bangas” and a couple of months went by and I guess he liked it and then he hit me up about seeing how I would feel about doing a full-length. At that time, I had become a real big fan of his work and I felt like his sound was very, very close to what I was doing and I felt like it would be a good marriage.
How far along are you guys?
I would say we’re about 75% to 80% done. I still can’t decide if I want it to be an EP or a full-length. All the songs are monstrous. We have 10 songs. I made sure that I got the ones that I wanted and we made sure that the beats and lyrics and overall feel was correct. I kind of wanted the song “Villanous,” the energy of that song, I wanted the album to reflect that. I wanted it to be a collection of work that reflected that one song. So I took my time with it. There’s no rush with it. We just want to make sure that we deliver on our end.
What else do you want to get out in 2014?
After the Stu Bangas project, I just want work with some new blood, some new producers. I don’t want to sell myself short. I don’t think that I’m going to release another full-length album this year. I think I’ll just focus on the Stu Bangas project to make it as big as possible. I really want to work with Statik Selektah, without a question. Harry Fraud is someone else I want to work with. His beats are phenomenal. I could say that Stu Bangas has my sound, but so does Harry Fraud, on a different spectrum. I’m not sure if I’ve really shown everybody that. A lot of people think it’s just super-super deep lyrics and intricacy that I’m writing, but there’s also another side too and a real painful side and a side where the lyrics are easier to understand. I just want to reflect all those abilities and show the world what I can do.