Prolific Baltimore rapper Spank Rock discusses the long awaited release of his 2011 sophomore album Everything Is Boring and Everyone Is a Fucking Liar, traveling to Berlin to work with the album’s producer Boys Noize, and being a part of Alexander Wang’s T ad campaign with close friend Santigold.
It has been five years since Spank Rock, real name Naeem Juwan, released his widely acclaimed electro rap debut album YoYoYoYoYo. After five years of working on other projects, he is back with a brand new album and plenty to say. He performs October 21st at Mezzanine.
You chose to release this record through your own label, how did you come to make this decision?
I bounced around labels in between records. I was signed to a label called Downtown but then they wanted to renegotiate our contract. Eventually I figured if I put it out on my own it’d be just as successful as if I put it out on an indie label. Also I didn’t want to go with a major label because I don’t believe in major record labels really letting people be as creative as I want to be.
The trend amongst young independent artists is that you don’t really need the big record label machine anymore, is that true?
I think so, especially for younger artists who are very internet savvy. If you believe in yourself and you have the drive then you can definitely make a huge impact putting out your album. I think it’s smarter like that. But there are still really solid record labels out there, and the labels can do things like marketing that some artists can’t do themselves, so.
You switched producers for the new album, recruiting Boys Noize. How did you two come to work together on this album? Who reached out to whom?
I was performing at a festival in Australia and Boys Noize was headlining. He approached me and was like “Why haven’t you put any new music out in the last few years?” And I told him about the label issues and things like that. He said “if you ever need any help or music, I’d love to work with you.”
Did you originally plan for him to produce the whole record, or once you started working with him did things just proceed that way naturally?
Yea, we started working together pretty late in my recording process. I was close to having an album completed before I even started working with him, but once I started working with him and I went to Berlin we threw out more than half the record and started almost completely new with Boys Noize. I just had great chemistry with him; I was happy he was letting me be myself and was extremely patient. I was kind of a wreck during that time (laughs). I just liked being under his guidance
How much of the record did you record in Berlin? How did this influence album’s content?
He lives in Berlin, and I was there for a month, so we recorded a lot of the album there. I came with a lot of baggage and I had a lot to say. I don’t think Berlin changed the content of the record but it definitely inspired me and gave me freedom to get away from what I was experiencing at home.
The record is called Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar, is there some meaning or message behind the title?
No, I wouldn’t take it that seriously. I think it’s just an angsty bratty statement (laughs). But people seem to responding to that statement; it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels that way. Sometimes you just wake up one day and you slip it out of your mouth, that’s what humans do.
Like your music, electronic music seems to be influencing hip-hop more in the last few years. Do you think this will continue as electro seeps its way more into the mainstream? Will we see more hip-hop artists teaming up with electronic producers like you did for this record?
Yea, I could see that happening a lot more. Someone had asked last week if I would be working with David Guetta. It seems like every hip-hop artist is working with Guetta, but I think electronic music is just kind of a trend right now in the world. It’s almost like math, it’s this language you can translate across the world.
I think the biggest thing in hip-hop right now is definitely the influence from the south, I think ghetto music always takes a big part in hip-hop. I think hip-hop artists who want to be pop culture need electronic songs because pop is so influenced by electronic music.
You’re from Baltimore, which is a smaller market that seems to have been getting a lot of attention in the independent music world lately. What is special about the music and culture coming out of Baltimore?
Baltimore has a lot of character it’s a pretty weird city. Certain areas are still stuck in the 50s, some areas are completely devotedly ghetto and then you have a lot of colleges there like MICA, the art school, and John Hopkins. I think having that all together in one city and having a place to live cheaply is good for artists.
Who are some artists coming out of there we should take note of?
One band that I’m really checking out right now is this group called Dope Body.
How did you and Santigold become involved working with Alexander Wang’s T Collection?
I got an email one day saying Alex wanted me to be a part of his campaign. I’ve been invited to his fashion shows before, but I was really surprised when I was asked to be a part of the line. He’s always been one of my biggest inspirations in fashion, and since Diplo did the line last year, it was cool to be a part of that.
What was it like to tour with Ke$ha this year?
It was actually really cool! I’m used to playing in bars to crazy drunk people (laughs). But yea it was weird at first opening for a different kind of crowd. We were afraid we were going to get booed off the stage, but everyone was really good to us.
Spank Rock plays the Mezzanine October 21st. Advance tickets are available for $20.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ElCapitanSalty