Los Angeles has a reputation for fostering chill rap, beaches, chicks and partying. So why wouldn’t the city’s local rapper/producer Alexander Spit make music that embodies those things? Providing fans with a constant flow of new (and often free-to-download) music over the past few years, Spit has been building toward his upcoming full-length release, A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside. The album drops on January 29 via Decon and already has people talking. I had a chance to chat with Spit about his work, album cameos and finding inspiration in Hunter S. Thompson.
How long has your upcoming album, A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside, been in the works?
I dropped a beat tape called Mansions at the beginning of February this year, and around that time is when I started working on the album.
Is there a story behind the name?
Last year I was reading a lot of Hunter S. Thompson, and all the titles of his works are always 10-word titles. I wanted to do something in that vein—come up with a title that alluded to drug use and at the same time could parallel this journey as an artist.
Have you used any different methods or styles in this upcoming album that you haven’t used before?
Definitely. On a technical level it’s probably my best, most professional-sounding work while still being completely done by myself. In the past I’ve always worked with really low-grade equipment, trying to make the best out of it. On this go around I invested my money into better equipment.
How would you suggest someone listen to this upcoming album?
I think if you listen to any music when you’re really fucked up, it’s going to make you listen deeper or notice more things in general. I always encourage people to listen to my music in a very heavy, vibey state where they’re least distracted. I like the idea of making music that people can just let play in their room, but a lot of the concepts and ideas and sounds are not noticeable at first glance.
From a production standpoint, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of producing your own material opposed to someone else’s?
I think the greatest blessing, as an artist, is that I know how to produce my own stuff. It’s like building your own house. At the end of the day I created what is being listened to in every aspect. For me, the only roadblocks I hit sometimes are when I’m caught up in trying to make something that I want somebody to like. Usually when I’m in a place of creative freedom, where I’m not worried about whether party kids are going to like this or super conscious hip-hop heads are going to like it—when I’m in a space where I’m making exactly what I feel and what I think sounds cool is usually when my best work, the work that I’m most proud of comes out. When I work with equalizing somebody else’s sounds and stuff like that, I have to adapt to the sonic landscape that they created rather than what is burned into my creativity.
You put out a prelude EP to your upcoming album that was titled A Breathtaking Trip…. How does it set up things up? What can people expect with the full-length from listening to the EP?
A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside was originally supposed to be that EP [A Breathtaking Trip...]. When people listen to the EP, though, I honestly don’t think they’re going to expect a lot of the sounds that they hear on the album.
When I make albums, I try to think about movies. Not necessarily on a storytelling landscape but more on a beginning, intense opening, plot development, a love scene and a climactic ending. So I think of music on that tip. I think that when people hear the album, I’ve intended for it to be listened to in its entirety. Each song is an aspect of the greater whole.
The list of tracks has been released, and there are a lot of artists on your album. How did you choose who to involve?
Luckily I have a team that’s really good at keeping contacts organized of people who have reached out over the years, because when it came to the point of working on the album, it was like, “OK, this song is good right now, but what can we do to make it better? Who can we add to it?” It was just a matter of coming up with people who I thought would sound good on the track. I’m not big on unnatural collaborations for the most part, so I really wanted to keep everything within the same realm. Ever since I signed with Decon, they introduced me to a lot of camps that I respected: Alchemist, Action Bronson, Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire and E-40. They’ve been the middlemen for me and those artists, and it came together that way.
For the past year and a half of you releasing new work, it’s been offered online to download for free. Why did you go that route, and how has it helped or hurt you?
I think it’s a mixture of both. I want to say that luckily we grew up in a generation of kids who are into buying music, but that doesn’t ring true anymore, because even I don’t buy music like I used to growing up. I’m trying to think of it in a business mindset of a really, really nice businessman who’s like, “I’m going let you listen to this, and if you like it, you can have it.” Almost like a test drive at a car dealership. And if you like, you’ll buy it—it’s undeniable at that point. But all it means for me, as an artist, is that the product I make needs to be of quality and something worth buying and investing in.
It’s a double-edged sword because a lot of people have adapted to the fact that I drop free music, so when it comes to me dropping an album, they’re going be like, “He usually gives this out for free. Why would I buy this?” I just try to think of it in the way that I grew up; that the artists I really believed in and looked up to, I supported—and support by literally buying their music and going to their shows and buying their merch and being a proud listener of them.
Tracklist For A Breathtaking Trip To That Otherside:
01. Black Magic On Blue Magic
02. Ride (Chicken Wit The Odds)
03. GREAT SCOTT!!!
04. That’s Spit / Space Echoes
0 5. A Breathtaking Trip Feat. BAGO
06. NRML Ave Interlude
0 7. B.N.E. Remix Feat. E-40 And Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire
08. Coastal / Hyperion Co-Prod. By Caleb Stone
10. Getaway Car Feat. Alchemist
11. Vodka Interlude Prod. By In Transit
12. Artesia Feat. Action Bronson
13. Pulp 2013 / Heroin Chic
14. Cinema Interlude
15. Honeymoon In A Motel Room
16. Sluts Kiss French Co-Prod. By Bobby Evans
17. Death By 27