Philly rapper Spank Rock (real-name Naeem Juwan) claims he “didn’t have a clue” what he was doing with The Upside EP – but it’s this openness that’s led to possibly his most eclectic release to date. Drawing influence from his slack-pop friends The Black Lips and contributions from Kid Kamillion, Philly hip-hop producer Noah Breakfast, Don Loemax and label boss Boysnoize, ‘The Upside’ EP never loses grip.
Retaining the experimental edge of 2011’s Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar LP, it’s an intense electro rap onslaught riddled with the “cum stains, blood stains and cocaine” of “Gully”, and the pulsing beats and trap flourishes of “Back Up” and “Burning Man”. On “Assassin”, long-time friend and collaborator Amanda Blank joins him for their first joint work since 2008; “I always hate working with Amanda coz’ every time I ask her to do a song with me I know she’s going to show me up,” Juwana deadpans. Spank & Blank’s sexually-charged sparring peaks over a bubbling trap beat – stream the whole thing below.
Spank Rock: I don't remember a day that has gone by without music being played for the most of it. I watched Purple Rain for the first time with my aunt Trisha, at the age of three, and I knew that there was nothing in the world that would be more enjoyable than music. I could be nothing else than a musician. I'd be dead if I couldn't do this, and sometimes I still want to die now.
Would you still consider yourself as an underground artist?
Spank Rock: I'm afraid to answer this question honestly. Is there even still an underground? Independent musicians and independent music journalists seem to be more interested in creating new indie stars than maintaining a healthy community of artists who could be considered ‘the underground’. I hope that musicians can begin to show more support for one another, and bring more value to their culture, that can be measured in other ways than social media numbers.
Who should people be listening out for?
Spank Rock: Shamir, Mr. Carmack, Club Mega, Morris and Grande Marshal.
Who are your dream collaborators – alive or dead?
Spank Rock: Alive, I would love to collaborate with Missy & Pharrell (on the same song!) and also Olly Alexander of Years & Years. Dead, Jim Henson.
‘The Upside’ is out on December 9 on Boysnoize Records