Words by Luke Wigren.
Longevity seems to be the elusive variable in rap these days. Staying power? Do not go there! I warn you… You will run out of fingers for the fallen. Luckily, we have artists like SPECSWIZARD, a Seattle veteran “rhyming since Reagonomics,” who is still crafting soul-stirring music more than three decades after he began.
The Golden Eagle EP‘s lyricism has the same playful world weariness which attracts me to the greatest verses of Shabazz Palace’s emcee, Ish. This is not surprising being that both started around the same time. In just the turn of a few lines, SPECS can brush off rap’s passing fads, while conveying an undying love for the culture and labor of hip-hop, all while avoiding condescension.
To savor a line from SPECSWIZARD means to reflect on just how many waves of rap music have risen and crashed. A song like “Shy” illustrates how lucky we are to have a scene mature enough to carry this type of inter-generational dialogue. Plus, his cartoon-ish stylings and idiosyncratic beat choices don’t hurt for those who like MF Doom or Flying Lotus.
As hip-hop enters its forties, the greatest triumph of all may not be in pursuing fame or fortune — something I hope should be fairly obvious — but in continuing to inspire the next generation, while magically and somehow impossibly staying under the radar. Shabazz Palaces does this by fabricating their own anonymity. Meanwhile, as his final track exclaims, SPECWIZARD seems to have done it by discovering “how to make himself invisible.”