Who is this ‘Spends’?
As southern MC T.I. might rap, “Big things [are] poppin’” on the west coast. The west coast is known for numerous things, including Hollywood, its professional sports franchises (specifically those legendary LA Lakers), and of course the music. Musically, west coast rap is definitely a movement and an important one at that. The west coast sound is a distinct entity in itself; the ‘vibe’ contrasts that of midwest, east coast, or southern rap. Usually sporting luxurious, chilled out production work coupled with a smooth, agile flow, west coast rap holds its on. Snoop Dogg, Game, E-40… the list of prestigious, preeminent rappers whose genesis occurred out west goes on and on and ON. The new name to add to the list? Spencer Williams, better known as rapper Spends Quality. Spends Quality recently released two solo albums, Flight Music and Time Peace, both independently via his own label CFO Recordings (both released on April 16, 2013). Prior to his solo career, Spends could be found in hip-hop group Sonicbloom, which released three albums all via CFO. New he may be to the solo game, Spends Quality has been spitting for some time now. You know what else stands out about Spends? Well Spencer Williams is no slouch; he has an anthropology degree from Sonoma State University. Do those smarts influence his rhymes? Perhaps! Spends’ style is an agile and his flow is easy to follow. Even so, Spends goes ‘hard’ by going intelligent without going over one’s head. This intellectual spirit about his rhymes distinguishes him from numerous rappers and adds an extra sophistication; his lyrics are both meaningful and thoughtfully conceived. But enough background! What about Spends’ music? Time to weight in!
Spends Music⎟ Flight Music⎟ CFO Recordings⎟⎟ Release Date: April 16, 2013
On first album Flight Music, Spends Quality takes the reins with all songwriting and production work. Described as “classic tracks pull[ing] listeners deep into themselves with precise melodies and introspective rhymes”, the effort proves to be a very well conceived album. “Alive Again” sets the tone, paying homage to ‘old school’ and flaunting the signature lush, west coast vibe. Spends’ flow ‘rocks’, with the perfect vocal tone to match and propel his lyrics forward. On another standout, “So Natural”, Spends taps J. Kendall and Blaz for a lift. A dedication to his girl, “So Natural”, as suggested by its title, is truly genuine in quality. “Live in Effect” contrasts the production of previous cuts, anchored by big bass and buttressing drums. “Live in Effect” features J. Kendall once more as well as colleague Adam Fission, another thought-provoking, intellectual rhymer. Other bright spots lift Flight Music, including “No Wasted Time”, in which Spends reflects on efficient use of a limited amount of time in life. On “Choose Love” (featuring Are Too), he goes against the grain, spreading a message that often eschewed or misinformed in hip-hop. No miscues, Flight Music proves to be a welcome introduction to Spends Quality. He keeps it real, but offers a strong alternative to rappers who are more focused on the club, cars, and women. Favorites: “Alive Again”; “So Natural”; “Live in Effect”
Spends Music⎟ Time Peace⎟ CFO Recordings⎟⎟ Release Date: April 16, 2013
Time Peace, Spends’ second effort was more collaborative in conception – Spends continues as chief songwriter while Mr. Tay handles the beats. Another consistent, enjoyable album, the effort is described as follows: “The name reflects the optimism of a clock ticking towards a time of peace, both personally and globally, heralded by soulful beats and wise words.” Man, that’s deep! And guess what? The description is an accurate one! “Place To Be” sets the bar from the get-go, featuring production work that any R&B or smooth jazz singer could sing over – it’s that smooth! Vocally, Spends clearly projects, never fighting the Tay’s production work. On “Midnight”, Spends eschews the hook, spitting incredibly intelligent, continuous no-nonsense rhymes. On “Quick Sand”, the production grabs attention from the onset. Later Spends’ ideal articulation makes one hinge on to his every lyric, summarized by a simplistic, yet effective hook (“Watch out for that quick sand!”). Later, “In With the New” combines jazz and hip-hop in a beautiful marriage. Spends’ flow? Aggressive, yet relaxed; hookless, yet a juggernaut. “In With The New” shares many similarities with “Midnight”, another top-tier number.
Like Flight Music, the above-mentioned only scratch the surface. Single “Time Peace” is no slouch with Spends at his most philosophical, focused on the seriousness of ‘time’. His message on “Let Go” is admirable, evidenced by its hook: “We gotta let go / we can’t hold on for too long / if we wanna grow / we gotta move on…” Also, one has to think concluding cut “Don’t Rush Me” plays into Spends’ concept of time and peace. Ultimately, Time Peace continues to highlight the ascent of Spends Quality. Favorites: “Place to Be”; “Midnight”; “Quick Sand”; “In With the New”
In closing, if you are a hip-hop fan, particularly one who loves west-coast rap (and is familiar with the ‘Bay Area’), you should definitely check out Spends Quality. You won’t be disappointed by one of rap’s newest beacons. The game always has room for new, refreshening MC’s and Spends is one to watch.
- Review: Logic, ‘Young Sinatra – Welcome to Forever’ (Mixtape) (brentmusicreviews.com)
- Spends Quality (spendsquality.com)
- Spends Quality – Time Peace | Read Hip Hop Reviews, Rap … (hiphopdx.com)
- RapReview Feature for April 30th, 2013 – Spends Quality Interview (rapreviews.com)