Today we’re turning the spotlight over to California-based rapper SpenDoe who recently released a new single called “To The Top” and it’s a total vibe. In our interview we asked SpenDoe who the first rapper they got into, what attracted them to their style, some of the challenges they’ve faced collaborating with other artists and what you can expect in their upcoming releases.
Give “To The Top” a spin (available on most major streaming services) and then read on for our interview below.
To The Top is another collaborative effort with Sureet Sandhu who you’ve worked with for some time now. What is it about Sureet Sandhu that keeps you coming back to each other to create?
Sureet and I? We’ve been collaborating for many moons. I create different types of songs over his productions. Sureet has a different vibe with his beats. Sureet actually broke a mixtape joint I did, over his production. It actually got picked up by the BBC in Europe. The song ended up on The Hype Show with Bobby Friction.
What would you say is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome with collaborating with other artists?
Not everyone is going to be on the same page – I get that. I’m pushing my music all the way. I want my music to be heard. I want to reach a level of success, to where I can take care of my loved ones and those I work with. You have some collaborators who create for fun. Music might not be something they are pursuing as a career.
Another barrier is time constraints. Not everyone is going to be able to make it to the studio, or music video. Not everyone has access to record, all the time.
What piece of advice could you offer up and coming artists who are looking to do similar collaborative efforts but might not be sure where to start?
Get to know your collaborators. Find that common ground. Make sure there is an understanding. Not everyone is going to share your hunger for success.
Who was the first rapper that you listened to and really took to their style and flow? What was it about them that attracted you?
DJ Quik. I really enjoy Quik’s diverse musical style. I’m a big fan of his up-tempo beats and rapping style. I enjoy the jazz elements he incorporates into his music. I was captivated by Quik’s album “Safe + Sound” when it dropped.
I know you’re originally from California so it’s probably unsurprising to you that To The Top for me is highly reminiscent of early 90’s west coast rap given the soul and jazz influences throughout the beat. What artist would you say may have had the biggest influence on the direction of this song?
There’s a few. DJ Quik, and Pete Rock & CL Smooth.
To The Top captures that feel good vibe of feeling unstoppable, moving your life in the direction you want to see it going and taking it all in as it happens. How do you keep yourself in a positive head space when you’re working towards your goals?
I stay focused. I remain optimistic about the future. I think of my family, my loved ones. I think about the lives I want to change and all the others avenues I’d like to explore. I can’t change the past, but I can set myself up for a better future.
In To The Top you mention grabbing some late night Chinese food. Do you have a favourite spot you can tell us about so we know where to go when we’re in your neighbourhood?
Charlie Hong Kong on Soquel Dr. In Santa Cruz. They have a nice menu. They use organic ingredients and have a nice vegan and vegetarian menu.
You’ve been keeping incredibly busy producing a significant haul of music of the last year and with two albums worth of unreleased material, there’s no real signs of you slowing down. Of those unreleased tracks, is there a genre that has been pulling you further in? What can fans expect from upcoming releases?
Yes, I have a nice size catalog of unreleased music. Experimental hip hop. Incorporating that boombap. That old school vibe, it’s really got me creating. I grew up rapping over “mob type beats” growing up in the Bay Area/Coastal scene. If you listen to my song “Changing Lanes” produced by DJ ULTIM8M, you’ll see his production brings about something different with SpenDoe. I’m all about evolving.
What other up and coming artists are you listening to right now?
I’m listening to Bay Area hip hop artist Day Day. He has an album out titled “Last to Eat,” and it’s a well balanced album. I like his energy and delivery. Day Day is consistent. I actually performed with Day Day, recently. I also performed with Supa Dave from Queens, NY, and he’s got great energy. We met up in Bend, Oregon.
I’ve also been vibing to a really talented singer by the name of Angela Muñoz, who I became familiar with after seeing her perform at The New Parish in Oakland, CA. Angela is extremely talented, and I enjoyed her performance of “Bitches Do Voodoo” off the amazing album “The Midnight Hour” by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
If there is one thing you could say to encourage that 12 year old rapper working on their first rhymes in their bedroom right now, what is it?
Never give up. Don’t doubt yourself. Not everyone is going to be a fan of your music, and that’s okay. Stay focused, and always have a plan A, B, C, and D!
What’s one album you always find yourself reaching for to listen to on late night drives?
The Midnight Hour by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
You often mention different cities and countries in your music. What’s the next place on your travel bucket list?
I often mention my travel bucket list when creating music. I’d love to get to Canada one day. I’ve read a few stories based in Canada and have kept up with film/TV. I’ve actually featured on a song alongside an Ontario hip hop artist.
Is there anything else you want to add or plug right now for new fans to check out? Please listen to the following: To The Top, Changing Lanes, and I Just Want to Fly. These singles are receiving great feedback. Follow me across social media, and keep up with me. I interact and respond. I appreciate you taking the time to interview me.
Thanks SpenDoe! We appreciate you taking the time to chat with us!