What are your views on Hip Hop? How does it look through your eyes?
That’s a pretty broad question – basically, I love hip hop like I always have. I’m not one of these guys who needs to save it or ‘take it back where it belongs’… I’m feelin a lot of the stuff that’s coming out on the major label level these days more than I was a few years ago, and as much as I was a few more years before that. I’m pretty open to anything, to me it’s all about are your rhymes on point and is your production tight.
When you begin to forge lyrical gems, what techniques do you use? How do you get in the mood to swing with the microphone dynamics?
Wow, that’s a lot to live up to! … I usually just sit down with a beat, and try to have a chorus in mind. Mainly I’m an aesthetic type of guy, I’m more about the cool slang and well thought out rhyme patterns than the deep message or whatever, so I just try to use a style that’ll complement the beat like it was another instrument. I just use the feelings I’ve been having at any given time and pour that into what I’m trying to do. It’s nice if the music reaches people on an emotional level, cause that’s in there, but mainly I’m aiming for the heavy sound that’ll make you wanna move something, and trying to make the wording sparse enough that you can really get it, but dense enough that it’s still impressive.
What’s the science behind your name? Or Is there any?
I won’t call it science … it was basically back when I was called Intellect, and me and some of the crew came up with real name type of names for ourselves (first there was Moke with Ron Contour, and Bird with Drake Mason) … I came up with Jeff Spec, and I felt that Intellect was too dictionary, and it put a burden on me to maintain a certain persona. My name now just leaves whatever open, and it’s a good conversation piece.
What inspired you to become a hip hop artist?
Other hip hop, plain and simple. I started writing in like ’89 , ’90, so it was things like Special Ed, Rakim, Public Enemy, etc. Before I could really buy albums I had those Rapmasters tapes with various artists, as well as like ‘Rap the Beat’ , ‘Def Rap’, ‘Hot Rap’, etc. Then the whole ’92 , ’93 era was real inspirational to me as an already developing MC, cause people really started expanding on their styles even more at that point. As far as production, it was rapping that inspired me, I just wanted to be able to provide myself with the type of backdrop I might be checkin for at any given time.
What other hip hop artists or groups do you listen to?
You’d have a tough time finding an artist that I didn’t like something about … but some of my favorites, that I look to for inspiration are Pharoahe Monche, Gang Starr, OC, Jay Z, AZ, Nas, Common, Special Ed, Masta Ace, Rakim, Hiero, MF Doom, Freestyle Fellowship, and the list goes on. Ofcourse people I crew with make that shit I like to listen to as well, you know, Ishkan, Moka Only, Sichuan, Sweet G, Bird Apres, etc.
How would you describe your music?
Aggressive, electrifying, breathtaking … I don’t know, there’s a lot to any type of music, but I would say to make it brief, that I make hip hop music for fans of hip hop music.
How would you describe yourself?
I’m a face value type of guy, what you see is what you get. I don’t try to post on anybody or act this or that role, and I like to talk to people like I know them already when I meet them.
What are your immediate future musical plans? And what are your long term goals in regards to your music?
Right now, I’m just looking forward to Dark City, the new album, being available on the shelves, so I’m doing everything to promote it – people can check for a Jeff Spec show in their city in the near future. Of course the ultimate goal is to make records that go down in history, and to be a household name as far as rap goes.
Out of the songs you’ve created, what is your personal favorite, and why?
I wouldn’t say I have one favorite, but one I’m really feelin is the title cut from the new album, “Dark City” … I think the rhymes are really well thought out, the hook is catchy, and the beat is real hard and dark sounding. Also, “Bounce Bitch” is a favorite because of basically the same reasons, although the beat is a little more edgy than dark …
Where can fans listen to some of your music?
or www.iuma.com (search Jeff Spec)
What online resources have been a help in getting your album out there, and lending their promotional support to your project?
Well, doing interviews like this has definitely been helpful, just politicking with everyone involved in the hip hop website side of things. Also, I have an artist page at www.daybydayent.com that lets fans know the whole bio and info on me. And, last but not least the two aforementioned mp3 sites always let people check out any new music I want to make available.
Tell us about your involvement with Legendary Entertainment which, correct me if I’m wrong, you released these fine albums under; The Regular, Rappetite, Its Simple, Thousand Sense, and Fort Knock.
You got all of those right – but the only one initially released on Legendary was ‘The Regular’ – the rest are all re-releases. The deal is basically me and the rest of the Planners used to slang our own tapes and cd’s, duplicated at home. The demand got to a point where we could no longer fill all of our orders, and at about that time Chris from Legendary came to us with the proposal to do this thing that’s happening now. It was just really good timing, and it’s convenient for us to be like “go to www.thecatacombz.com and order that” instead of trying to duplicate it all alone.
Anything you’d like to share about those albums? Favorite one, songs fans should pay close attention to? Where they can listen to audio, purchase them, etc?
My favorite is always the most recent, so I’d have to go with The Regular, and from that my favorite joints are “Who I Am” and “Spec the Architect” … Some other cool tracks are “Jeff’s House” off of Fort Knock, “International Slicer” from It’s Simple, “Why Don’tcha” from Rappetite, and “Hourglass Grains” from Thousand Sense.
Tell us about The Thing With Two Heads, that you released with Sichuan. How was it working with Sichuan?
Well, working with Sichuan is always cool, he’s my room mate, so it’s not like it was a super unique experience as far as regular recording goes. Sichuan has been doing production for and with me for the past few years now, and I think we (City Planners) all really think of him as the man as far as production goes. He’s really well respected in Vancouver and way beyond for that. But the Thing With Two Heads is a mixtape, it’s basically Sichuan mixing together some classic beats and breaks, soul, funk, jazz, rock, whatever onto a 60 minute mix CD – he’s really good on the wheels too. My name is on it because we set it up like a radio show, so I’m hosting, and the majority of the records used were mine too.
What other artists do you frequently work with? How have your experiences been working with others?
Alright, the official membership of City Planner, the crew I’m in, is myself, Ishkan, Sichuan, Moka Only, and Sweet G – these are really the only people I work with on a regular basis, aside of Bird Apres, who is a good friend of all of ours. As far as working with people I don’t kick it with all the time, I feel it’s kinda pointless because there’s less common ground to meet on. There are exceptions, though, if me and somebody else are feelin each other’s stuff I’m always open to put something down, it just depends on how the individual sounds mesh together.
Tell us about your recent album release through Day By Day Entertainment. Facts, and information you think fans need to know.
The album is called Dark City, and it’ll be available within March – it got pushed back a little, but that’s all normal, it happens to basically any album nowadays. This album was just finished in time for 2002, and it has a kind of wintery sound to it, but I still feel it’s something you can bump for any season. This is definitely my best work to date, I think on every end it has more appeal to any kind of listener, and anybody should be able to get something out of it.
Special tracks featured on the album that fans should pay close attention to?
I mentioned a couple of tracks already, some others I’m feelin are “Rock Off”, “Something Tells Me”, “Set Up Shop” part 2, and “Takin Things Over”.
Where can fans read some reviews, or listen to some audio off the album, or purchase the album?
Some interviews are at:
the last two are video and audio, respectively – they’ll be up shortly. I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but if you search around you can find all that.
Do you have any shout outs you would like to make?
Just one last mention of City Planners – Check for us.
Interview by HipHopHotSpot.Com