FINDING HIS HAPPY PLACE Spose sets the bar high.
You may or may not be aware of Spose's current Kickstarter campaign. He's got two albums already in the can — one an album full of raps over Outkast beats; the other a "mixtape" of all-new material — and he's looking for some funding for making the videos he feels he needs to blow them up. And what do you get for kicking in some cash? Well, there are any number of options, from Spose-branded lighters to an exclusive game of Settlers of Catan with Spose and Cam Groves, but also yet another entire album.
The Yard Sale is 21 tracks of odds and ends, some fully produced tracks that never got released because Universal Republic said, "no thanks," and a whole bunch of alternative versions and one-offs that haven't been on an album before. For instance, you can now own the manic "Bi Winning," which had only been available via YouTube video previously and is just as absurdly entertaining as that whole Charlie Sheen situation was in the first place: "Two and a half men?/That's my dick's name."
There are lines in that tune worth the $5 he's asking for the whole album. Maybe you've heard that one, though, as it's got 184,000+ views.
That's the thing with Spose — he's set the bar pretty damn high. Putting a suit on and looking through money-colored glasses, you can kind of see what Universal was on about. These songs like "Molly Ringwald" and "Never Be Alone" and "The Morning After" are hip hop for music fans, mixing in My Bloody Valentine sounds and Elliott Smith bites and heaping piles of irony and self-awareness to make some really interesting thought pieces that are also plenty fun for getting down.
Damn, the take on George Harrison's "Set on You" with down and dirty sax bleats that "make sluts out of prudes," is inspired.
But Spose, himself, knows that his path to a wallet he can't sit on is something more like "a Ke$ha song/Because my fans are 12." These same teeny-boppers who blew up Twitter wonder who Paul McCartney was during the Grammys.
There are times when it's fair to wonder whether he wishes he never made that stupid "I'm Awesome" song (I don't actually think it's stupid) and garnered that legion of brilliant Facebook commenters. He loves the access and bigger stage it granted, but now he has to work twice as hard to win over the fans he really wants: "You know I got better songs."
He does. But worse ones, too. If he wants to make songs for music lovers, maybe the jokily sung choruses could be toned down and real harmonies could be introduced. When Spose is rapping over beats, good things are almost always happening. When there's a warbly lead vocal over singer-songwritery guitar, like the open to "Go Fuck Yourself"? Less so. They're usually funny ideas, like the sketches that often populate hip-hop records, but they're not my bag (possibly because I'm mostly humorless).
I'm personally most attracted to his wit. His lyricism and delivery are where he's undeniably world-class, and it's on display especially in the bitingly sarcastic "They Tell Us," which just eviscerates the puppet-masters behind pop culture. "Do what works," they tell him, "don't push the envelope . . . don't be weird . . . the money is important."