Alexander Spit thinks about the future. The San Francisco/Los Angeles-based rapper-producer makes his music hoping and imagining how people will respond to it in a few decades.
Spit's 'A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside' LP arrives January 29 as a strikingly distinctive, futuristic rap album -- not surprising given that OutKast, Radiohead and R. Kelly were among the disparate sources of inspiration for the sonically adventurous and lyrically diverse collection.
On the heels of his 'A Breathtaking Trip' video, we caught up with Spit to find out how he concocted his trippy music and album cover, his affinity for R. Kelly adlibs and what it's like being a Filipino rapper.
RedBullUSA.com: Much of the production on 'A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside' has a spacey, atmospheric vibe, which is atypical for a rap album. Why do it that way?
Alexander Spit: I go into every project wanting to make it hella cohesive, but going into this project I referenced a lot of hip-hop albums and a lot of albums from any genre that I appreciated the cohesiveness of. I referenced OutKast's 'Aquemini' album. Obviously a lot of the songs are hits and they are all dope soundscapes, but they all tie in together perfectly, whether it's when the song starts or the interludes and skits between the songs.
I really wanted to create something like that and not really feed into making a bunch of songs for an album. There wasn't one track on the album where I was like, “This is my single for the radio.” Every track was on some, “I'm trying to create this to be a small piece of the bigger project.”
RedBullUSA.com: With 'B.N.E. Remix,' I was surprised that you played off of R. Kelly's 'Ignition' remix. What made you want to do that?
Alexander Spit: I always wanted to use that tagline at the beginning of a track. You can only use it on a remix and I've never remixed too much of my own music before. When I'm recording, I'll always say a little something before my verses; sometimes they'll make the cut or they'll hit the blooper folder. I felt it fit perfectly with the track.
I also like it when artists use references from other tracks without even saying where the track is from. It's one of those undeniable things. If you grew up some time within the last 10-15 years, you know the remix to 'Ignition' and that that's how R. Kelly starts that track without even hearing the beat.
RedBullUSA.com: At the end of the album, it gets super-dark, murderous and drugged-out. What inspired you to have that toward the end?
Alexander Spit: It's not a golden rule, but with my favorite records I always considered the second half to be your more introspective side. The first half, I'm always like, “I'm going to wake some people up with this.” Once I have their attention, I'm going to bring them into my world a little bit.
"If you're different, you're just different and it's not because of your race. It's more a state of being. I like people listening to my music and not knowing what race I am." -- Alexander Spit
That introspective, dark, psychedelic aspect of the album was where I wanted to take people with the entire thing. The end, that whole realm is the most honest aspect of the album. They may not be the ones that are in your face or that you can play when you're at a club or a party, but they're the ones that are the most honest aspects of who I am as an artist.
RedBullUSA.com: I thought that the album cover for 'A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside' really reflected the music. How did you decide on that image?
Alexander Spit: I designed the album cover myself. Radiohead put out an album a few years ago called 'In Rainbows.' I always really respected that album cover and liked how it looked, so I researched how it came to fruition.
They had their art director or whoever was doing their album art in the studio with them. They would brainstorm music and the graphic designer was simultaneously putting up photo references that were matching the vibe of what they were creating. They would feed off of the photo references and together they came up with this acid, chemistry-type, galactic art.
I always respected that, so I had a folder with a shitload of different reference photos that I was making music to. I wasn't always specific, but it was creating moods for me.
That's how the artwork itself manifested. I was very much listening to the album while making the art. I paid attention to all of the detail. All of the colors are very intentional. The placement of every color is intentional; the style of the font, the color -- it's what I felt the vibe of the music was.
RedBullUSA.com: There haven't been that many rappers of Asian descent. It doesn't seem like people care, which is good, but has it had an impact on you throughout your career?
Alexander Spit: This goes into a whole realm of thought and, more importantly, opinion. [We're] living in an age where image is the absolute thing for an artist, a businessman, or anybody trying to make a mark in society.
I'm a Filipino artist and in the realm of mainstream music and media, Filipinos have never been represented as being an Alpha Male, somebody of good stature who deserves good accolades, unless it's like a Kung-Fu movie or something. But not every Filipino or Asian person trying to make a mark on society is Jackie Chan or Jet Li.
I'm not trying to be the best Filipino rapper -- I'm trying to be the best rapper. It gives me a little extra drive. I read a lot of books, a lot of literature. I like quirky movies and I dress a little bit differently than your average rapper, but being a Filipino kid, people kind of expect me to be different. It's not that I deserve anything for that.
It's just that we live in a day and age where there's a context for why you feel a certain way about people. I want to break down those walls. If you're different, you're just different and it's not because of your race. It's more a state of being. I like people listening to my music and not knowing what race I am. It's not that I'm not prideful of who I am, but because I don't like feeding into stereotypes... [it's] a context that I don't even think about when I'm making my own music.
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