LINK | Posted by Virgil Dickson on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Spose has been called "The next great white rapper" by Vibe magazine. I was nervous speaking to him because I had never really spoken to a rapper before. But the guy I got on the phone with, real name Ryan Peters, was very kind and very candid about his career.
How are you doing? Thank you for taking the time to talk.
I'm doing good. I appreciate my PR girl sending me an email 10 minutes ago reminding me to talk to you. I was about to walk into this Mexican restaurant.
How long have you been working on this mixtape coming out on June 10?
I actually started working on this mixtape about two years ago. I was recording my previous album, The Audacity!, and for that album, I played all the instruments. I had these 64 track sessions, and sometimes I got fed up with making these elaborate songs. I just wanted to rap. So I would pull up a beat from one of my buddies and rhyme over that and that was the beginning of the The Peter Sparker Mixtape. It was me rapping for fun again instead of trying to make this epic Rock Opera that was my last album.
How did you choose that title?
My last name is Peters. I considered myself a pothead super hero, so since 2003 I've had that name. I've always done albums and I thought if I ever did a mixtape, I would called it Peter Sparker Mixtape because that was my more rappy alias.
Marvel hasn't sent you a cease and desist letter yet?
Not yet. I think the "S" on Sparker keeps them away. But I'm not that famous. I'm sure if it becomes popular they'll come looking for their money. I find people don't come to look for you until you're making a shitload of money.
You emphasized that Peter Sparker won't have many pop songs. What was your reasoning behind that?
Coming out of my Universal stint where they had a metaphorical gun to my head to make pop records, I was so turned off by that process. So with this record, I wanted to spit in the face of that and make rap songs.
For those that don't know, what's the difference between making a pop song versus the rap songs that will be on this mixtape?
When you're writing a pop record, you're writing the chorus first. When you're writing a rap song, you're writing the verses first.
What lyrical themes will you explore?
My last album was a bummer theme-wise because it was about things like domestic abuse, bullying, and suicide. So I wanted to take a step back and do lighter material. My favorite song on this new mixtape is about my car, a 2003 Nissan Altima.
You are referred to in other writings as the "middle class rap hero." At this point in your career is identifying with that class a choice or you just haven't worked you way up to the multi-million dollar echelon of rappers just yet?
I would certainly love to have millions of dollars but in all reality man, even when I signed to Universal and was making a boatload of money, I never really left the town I lived in. I still drove the same car, went to the same restaurants. I didn't really change and I think that's what my identity as an MC is. Even if I did have millions of dollars, I would still try to make music that relates to regular people working 9 to 5.
When did you first make that decision to keep your lyrics honest to your true circumstances? I hear many rappers who are just starting out rap about driving Escalades and living in mansions, when in reality they are riding the bus.
I made that choice around 2004 right around the time I was graduating high school. I had been rapping a couple years at that point. I had done that kind of rapping and got it out of my system after doing it through junior high and high school. I did it because when you first start rapping, that's what you do, you emulate your heroes.
I also got to attribute it somewhat to my friend Cam Groves. When I was in high school, his mom had rented a beach house and we were in his room smoking and I saw these raps. They were about going to Irving and having empty Mountain Dew bottles in his room and I thought, "Damn, you can write about that? What's actually happening in your life?" It was like a eureka moment for me.
What's your label situation right now?
I have a publishing deal with Sony/ATV which gets my songs in TV, commercials and shit, but I'm not affiliated with a major labor. I left Universal Republic at the end of 2010. I was only with them for 8 months.
I made them twentysomething songs in three months. But I didn't have proper major label management. I had nice guys as my managers, but when you're dealing with sharks, the dolphins can't really communicate without getting eaten, so the label had the upper hand. We had a song that was a top 40 hit and went gold in like a month ["I'm Awesome"]. Conventional logic would tell you to put out a second single and they had the single but didn't act.
They finally let me go because my A&R guy left and I was essentially floating in limbo. I think they got a new vice president and dropped 30 artists and I was right up there because I had one song with them.
How's it been running you own imprint, Preposterously Dank Entertainment?
It's been an incredible experience. I've learned a lot about how people work. I will admit I bit off more than I could chew. I thought, "Let me help all these cats out" when in reality I still had all this work to do. I think if I ever go hard with the label, it will probably be after my solo career. I don't think it's possible to split the time between yourself and honestly tell somebody else you're going to give them 100 percent.
Is the end of you solo career on the horizon?
I feel like that's a ways off. I feel like every day I make music, I learn something new. I see myself going as long as I can. But I'm not going to be 40 and rapping at a local bar. I'll probably bow out graciously in my mid to late 30s.
What's your thoughts on the recent success of your peer Macklemore?
I think it's the coolest thing in the world. It's a barometer of where the music industry is at. As someone who has been at a major label, usually they try to replicate the songs already on the radio. Macklemore has two hit singles and they're very unique songs that are real musical. If his songs can succeed on pop radio, I feel like that's not just a victory for white rappers but for musicians everywhere.
Do you see similarities between you two?
What gives me the confidence is that I'm still different from other white rappers out there. For every new white rapper that comes out, none really do what I do. Given that, I look at Macklemore as both an inspiration and proof that it's possible and more reason to keep going.
Last question. I always like to ask people from Maine this. Do you know Stephen King?
I have never seen him, but I am obsessed with him. I just read the Dark Tower series. I want to meet him desperately. I want to confess my love. I've seen his house in Bangor. The day I can get a shout out from Stephen King is the day I've made it.
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