No sooner had our favorite misfit Spree Wilson left Atlanta for New York, than he began receiving major co-signage from the likes of Q-Tip. Now he's suddenly tweeting pics from L.A., where he's in the studio with Organized Noize of Dungeon Family fame. So we had to get the happs. Turns out he's also working with Esthero and his longtime mentor, producer No I.D. Listen to their collaboration, "Where Do We Go Tonight," below the jump.
CL: How far back does your relationship with ONP (Organized Noize Productions) go, how did you all come to link up in L.A., and what are y'all working on?
Spree Wilson: Well, my relationship with ONP — or specifically Rico Wade — goes back to 2005/2006. My good friend Dee Felix met him while working at Sam's Club. Apparently Rico would come in there pretty often, and being that Dee knew ONP were my heroes, he would always tell Rico about me and talk me up as much as he could. I guess at some point, Rico asked him to bring me to the Dungeon (formerly located off of Cascade Road).
I remember being really nervous when he took me over there, because here i was standing in the same place that OutKast and Goodie Mob recorded, all while being asked to play some of my music by a person who has had as great an influence on my life, musically, as my other musical heroes the Beatles and Bob Dylan. I pretty much played him all the stuff I had at that point — which probably included "Travelin Man Blues" and some older KnivezOut stuff I had done with Shoden!1 and Novel — and he loved it.
I think another reason why we clicked was because Rico saw a lot of himself in me. We're very similar, personality-wise, being that we're both Pisces. The way we process things in our surroundings is very much the same. And I feel like I'm an extension of them sound-wise, with my own little quirks and personality added into the mix, of course.
After our initial meeting, we'd just always kept in touch. I would always go over there, play around on the guitar. He would teach me things about production and so forth. And eventually I was also able to meet Ray Murray, aka Yoda, and build a rapport with him also. But I've always kept Rico alert to my journey and progress. So fast-foward to when I got signed to Jive, I knew that I could never do a project and not have Rico, Ray and Sleepy involved. So it just kind of worked out that at the same time that I was working in L.A. with No I.D. and Esthero, they were also there working with Asher Roth. So I booked a room at Larrabbee Studios and they all came and we all made some magic for the album.
Q-Tip is executive-producing your Jive debut The Beauty of Chaos — which is so ironic because you've always sounded a bit like an extension of the original Native Tongues crew. How is he as a "boss" and what kind of advice, if any, has the man who made famous the saying "industry rule number four-thousand-and-eighty/record company people are shady" given you about the music business.
Truthfully, he's very hands off musically. He let's me and Shoden!1 (who is my production partner) do our own thing musically and on the production tip. I think that's why he liked me as an artist so much. I'm very much a self-contained package. I usually just go to him if I need his opinion or his ear on some of the new things I've worked on. Tip is not only one of the most musically knowledgeable folks I know, he's also one of the most down-to-earth people I know. He has no problem sharing information with you if he thinks it can help you progress forward in your journey. He's given me a host of invaluable advice ranging from tips on production to things I should look out for on the business end of things to good ol' big brother advice on how to maneuver through this place we call the music industry.
How is The Beauty of Chaos shaping up and what's the release date looking like? How are you managing to balance your rap and rock sides into a cohesive sound (assuming that's the goal)? And how is the label receiving it?
The album is shaping up great. We should see a release for it sometime next year. I'm dropping a special free project called The Never Ending Now at the end of Nov/beginning of December. It's an introductory piece for the people to get to know me musically, and a healthy appetizer to get folks excited for the album. I think I've definitely managed to take all of my musical ambitions and shape them into a cohesive piece of art. Shoden!1 and I have created a sound that is distinctly my own and I'm proud of that. The label is in love with the new music. I was really scared at first, but they really get my vision and we are all on the same wavelength musically it seems.
From the time you arrived in New York a year-and-a-half ago, things seem to have happened so fast for you. Do you think New York was more immediately responsive to you than Atlanta? I imagine it's easier for a so-called "misfit" to fit in up there than down here in the "hip-hop capital" where there's a preconceived notion of what a contemporary Atlanta-based artist should sound like.
Yeah, I arrived here a year and a half ago and it seemed almost immediately things began to move at a much faster pace. You gotta understand that in New York information moves at the speed of light. You can have a great show in this city on Tuesday and by the morning the whole city of New York knows your name, and by Thursday the whole world does. That's just how it is and how fast things can happen here. So it's not as much of a surprise to me that things have moved rather quickly here. I just applied the same work ethic I had in Atlanta to New York and things started moving.
Plus it's much easier to not only find your niche here, but to find the folks who support it here. That makes a hell of a difference when creating art. My good friend Dres tha Beatnik has this great thing he says, something to the tune of: "Atlanta is where you put in the work, establish your work ethic and cultivate and perfect your craft. New York is where you eventually get signed, and L.A. is where you shoot the video." He told me that the week before I left Atlanta for New York. I've completed two out of the three steps. (Laughs) I'm sure the third one is right around the corner though.
Looks like I will get a chance to listen in March:
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