VIDEO: “Home Of The Mighty” – Spekulation (feat. Perry Porter & Paolo Escobar; dir. by Shaun Scott)

206UP has been off it’s regularly scheduled programming for a minute while we gear up to release our Top 15 Seattle Hip-Hop Albums of the last five years (2009-14). It’s coming soon, I promise — just need to collect the last few envelopes of cash from these thirsty rappers. You’d never believe how hard it is to extract payola these days what with our every financial move being monitored and recorded for perpetuity.

I’m totally fucking kidding, by the way. (Or am I? …)

Anyway, the state of the world is … Well, I really have no words other than to say I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt such a range of emotions just from observing the 24-hour news cycle. There is so much pain and anger and risible sentiments of all types, it’s hard to muster the energy — or the desire — to celebrate anything. Spekulation’s Seattle-centric anthem “Home Of The Mighty” feels like the right song at the right time. It’s a poignant encapsulation of all the good and the bad, the dark and the light, that our fair city — and this country’s urban centers in general — are capable of producing. Last weekend, my wife and I watched The Birdcage, which was one of those familiar acts of celebration and lamentation we find ourselves participating in whenever a pop culture icon passes. We laughed our assess off, nearly to the point of tears, and it was interesting to consider where those fissures in composure were originating. The images in the video for “Home Of The Mighty” wrests similar feedback: alternating pangs of exuberance and regret over what the Town has wrought. You’d have to be an android not to feel it too.

Video

206UP FIVE YEAR (2009-14): “Five Seattle Producers Pushing it Forward” by Spekulation

FIVE clear

206UP continues its run of special features in celebration of the blog’s five-year anniversary.

Today’s post is the second in a series of guest contributions from different members of the Seattle hip-hop community. Yesterday, Ricky Pharoe provided insight into what it meant to be a rapper drifting in that nebulous realm of up-and-coming yet down-and-out in the Seattle scene circa 2007.

Today, producer/MC Spekulation lists his top five favorite Town hip-hop producers. 206UP thinks you should pay special attention to what he has to say because of his own particular pedigree as an artist: a well-tuned ear and attention to the intricacies of musical composition as opposed to rudimentary pad pushing on a drum machine. The five artists Spek lists embody the very definition of the term “producer” because they stretch beyond the simple beatmaker maxim.

Hit the jump to read more.

206UP 5 Year Anniversary 206UP Exclusive 206UP Exclusives Features Guest Posts

NEW MUSIC: “Home Of The Mighty” – Spekulation (feat. Perry Porter & Paolo Escobar)

spek_HOTM_print

Spekulation knows a lot about proper placement, whether it’s the interpolation of live instrumentation in his songs — like the 20-piece horn section in his latest Pac NW tribute anthem “Home Of The Mighty” (featuring MC Perry Porter and vocalist Paolo Escobar) — or the year long effort he recently put in with frequent collaborator Nate Omdal scoring the short film Enemy Within (which just received a nice look from the New York Times). Read more about Spek and his work and creative process, here.

Audio

THE SIX: Spekulation

Spekulation

THE SIX is a regular interview feature on 206UP.COM with a simple format: One member of the local hip hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.


Spekulation has gone viral twice and he’s only getting sicker.

Even before the internet meme fiascos wrought by last February’s Bitter Barista episode and, most recently, the Marshawn Lynch-worshipping turned Seahawks rallying cry, “Bout That Action”, the combo rapper/producer/writer had been carrying a following in the local music scene. That was thanks to his detailed, well-honed projects like 2011’s Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, a remixed collection of Jay Z songs using samples from local jazz outfit The Jason Parker Quartet, and Spekulation, the ambitious 2012 self-titled, self-produced EP that mixed a classic boom-bap aesthetic with live instrumentation.

Spekulation is here (in the nebulous internet-alized sense of “here”) because of two larks that blew up on the strength of… Well, it’s still not totally clear, I suppose. But he’s also here because of a very obvious love and intense dedication to the craft of hip hop music. For better or worse, Spek will forever be associated with Bitter Barista and “Bout That Action”. Similarly, though, there would be no Harrison Ford without Han Solo, no Macklemore (in his current incarnation anyway) without “Thrift Shop”, and certainly no reprieve for bitter baristas the world over without asshole customers to inspire edifying snark. Spek hopped on this week’s edition of THE SIX to let us in on how he does it.

Interviews The Six

THOUGHT BUBBLE: The Art of Going Viral – On Spekulation’s “Bout That Action” and Seattle’s Existential Super Bowl Angst

Beast Mode On

As I sit in front of my WordPress stats page, bewildered at the rapid increase in blog hits as a result of Spekulation’s now gone-viral remix of Marshawn Lynch’s charmingly glib Q&A session with Deion Sanders, two thoughts enter my mind: 1) Why the fuck didn’t I think of that? And 2) What, pray tell, is actually the perfect recipe for a meme to go viral? (It then dawns on me that if I truly knew the answer to #2, I wouldn’t be asking myself #1. So it goes…)

Going viral on the internet is as unpredictable as forecasting the weather. It’s something akin to opening a massive restaurant with a menu containing millions of items, and for some reason the grilled cheese with anchovies sandwich ends up being the most popular one. As the proprietor of said restaurant, all you really know is your customers are coming hungry, but for what exactly is unclear.

Sometimes the viral-ized captures the zeitgeist — like Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” or Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. Other times, it fulfills some sort of emotional need: The internet is so full of horrible news and horrible people commenting on said horrible news, it’s no wonder a tumbling sequence of adorable cat pictures with misspelled captions steals the productivity away from millions. And, yet other times still, going viral is simply a case of the blind squirrel finding the proverbial you-know-what.

My take on Spekulation’s “Bout That Action (Beast Mode Remix)” has nothing to do with dumb luck and everything to do with the Restaurant Corollary (terminology mine) I described above: There is a large community of Seattle sports fans that have no grand tradition(s) to fall back on in the lead-up to this weekend’s Super Bowl*. We — and I’m definitely including myself here — have rushed full-speed, head-on into a pre-Super Bowl state of celebration and agonizing anticipation, clinging only to our bankrupt estimations of what might — what could — possibly come to be. The emotions of a post-Super Bowl XLVIII universe where our favored team is inexplicably crowned the victor, is as unknowable and alien as life is on Mars.

“Bout That Action” is simply our gravity. It is the drum beat keeping regular time for our racing hearts. Hearts that threaten to destroy us by pumping lethal doses of anxiety into our already alcohol- and caffeine-saturated blood streams. Rapper Prometheus Brown seems to understand this. He cut a version of Spekulation’s track called “This Ain’t A Seahawks Anthem”, complete with precise, fastidious raps, and then followed up the song with these tweets:

and

The confluence of professional sports and hip hop in Seattle isn’t new, but the grand tradition of excellence has been fleeting. Until now, it’s existed just this side of a theory (1978-79 Sonics and present-day Macklemore notwithstanding). We are currently in a state of existential angst over these Seahawks. We are hungering at the door of an establishment we don’t truly know the inside of. There is a menu of items at our disposal, yes, but all we can really tell you is that we’re “bout that action”. That is, until the barriers guarding virtue fall on Sunday, and the mysteries of sports deliverance are solved in front of our very eyes.


*Yes, I realize the Seahawks have already played in a Super Bowl, but I contend this year feels different. Seattle fans have been able to stake a claim to having the best team in the NFL all season. The 2013 version of the Seahawks is an intense microcosm of what we’ve desired since the ’80s. It’s a little bit like the 2001 Mariners when they were the best… Until they weren’t.

Thought Bubble Views From the Peanut Gallery

NEW MUSIC: “Bout That Action (Beast Mode Remix)” / “This Ain’t A Seahawks Anthem” – Spekulation (feat. Marshawn Lynch, Deion Sanders & Prometheus Brown)

Spekulation - Bout That Action

The Super Bowl story that’s not really a story: Marshawn Lynch and his (now trademarked) understated press conference appearances. Somewhere in here lives a thought piece on Marshawn’s brilliant upending of our country’s expectations of how Black athletes should present themselves to the public — the counterpoint to Richard Sherman’s outspoken cries of excellence. Why in God’s name aren’t we wringing our hands over this?!

Town rapper and producer Spekulation gives us the soundtrack for our rumination: “Bout That Action (Beast Mode Remix)” subverts our complex reactions to Marshawn’s curious behavior by employing a singular telling statement made by the man himself. The simple repetition of his sampled words, “Bout that action, boss”, are matched by the equally rudimentary drum pattern of the song, thereby distilling Lynch’s message to its fundamental constituent elements: He is, simply, ’bout that action, boss. And we should be, too. God bless everyone. And God bless the United States of Super Bowl America.


Update, 1.30.14, 4:45pm PST:

Marshawn

And the inevitable remix to the remix: “This Ain’t A Seahawks Anthem”, featuring Prometheus Brown rapping from what sounds like a busy sports bar lobby or the non-business end of his cell phone.

Audio Downloads Sports

NEW MUSIC: Doc Watson The Instrumental Album – Spekulation

Spekulation - Doc Watson

Rapper/producer/author/actor/activist/barista* Spekulation dropped his Doc Watson The Instrumental Album on Monday. Thirteen shots for you to freestyle rap to. If that’s your thing.

(*Only four of these six things are true. As far as I know, anyway.)

Audio Downloads

NEW MUSIC: Truth Be Told – Spekulation

Click album cover to get it.

Click album cover to get it.

Spekulation probably doesn’t want to be known as the Seattle rap game Sean Connery (ie. forever attached to a starring role he made famous), so I won’t mention Spek’s recent 15 minutes of fame save for linking here in case you don’t watch Good Morning America or read major Seattle newspapers.

In any case, the man dropped his new EP, Truth Be Told, three days ago and it contains the usual care and attention to boom-bap detail that Spek is coming to be known for. Give the album a spin below and go here to see about the MC/producer’s extracurricular activities.

Audio Downloads

VIDEO: “All The Soldiers” – Spekulation (feat. Okanomode; dir. by. Chris Volckmann)

Spekulation dropped “All The Solders”, the first single from his upcoming Truth Be Told EP, last week, and followed it up with the visuals above. From the press:

Like the song, the video takes a personal look at the problem of violence in our society. The film focuses on a handful of people living in fear of the violence that has become a part of American life.  It is a subtle film that poses powerful questions about how we choose to live our lives in the face of fear and uncertainty.

Downloads Video

NEW MUSIC: “All The Soldiers” – Spekulation (feat. Okanomode)

Click image to purchase at Bandcamp.

Click image to purchase at Bandcamp.

Amid all the Bitter Barista drama, Spekulation still found time to drop a single from his upcoming EP, Truth Be Told. “All The Soldiers” is a politically-charged lament concerning America’s obsession with violence. Let the holier-than-thou snark police at Sprudge find something wrong with this.

Audio Downloads