Self-proclaimed “middle-class rap hero” Spose (née Ryan Peters) is easy to mock, but only because he opens himself up to it. Rap is his art and his back zits are his canvas. He declares his love for his Nissan, points out his unibrow, and, well, he’s from Maine. But self-deprecating lyrics like “I talk to myself on my Facebook wall” and a whispered, “I’m out of breath” mid-song, put Spose in control of the mockery. His niche is in the nerd-space, where a party is a six-pack and a sitcom, and sex is scary, or at least mythical. But with his upcoming album The Peter Sparker Mixtape containing track titles like “The People’s Douche” and “The King of Maine,” maybe his confidence is growing.
The 27-year-old starting rapping after he got kicked out of his high school band and the rest is (almost) history. After releasing his debut album Preposterously Dank in 2008, and gaining traction with 2010’s I’m Awesome, Spose bound and then severed ties with Universal, and now calls The Peter Sparker Mixtape “the proper follow-up to my first album that I would’ve made if I hadn’t ever signed with Universal.” The album drops June 10 via Spose’s own label, Preposterously Dank Entertainment.
This CMJ exclusive track, “Still Bimpin” off The Peter Sparker Mixtape, is somehow both lazily trundling and quickly dizzying. Over a snarky and jangly beat, Spose spits lines like “Still got the itch like I’ve been wearing a wool mask,” alongside the expected rapid-fire pop culture references. Check out our Q and A with Spose and the premiere of “Still Bimpin,” below.
How did you start rapping, or realize that you were good at it?
I started rapping in high school after I got kicked out of an alternative rock band called Fight Shirt. I realized I was good at it years later, but I enjoyed doing it from the moment I first started rapping even when I sucked. It took a lot of practice and persistence to grow and evolve to where I’m at now.
What’s your writing process like?
I write everyday. This is my only job so I wake up everyday and try to make something. Sometimes I’ll make a whole song, sometimes I’ll write a verse, sometimes I’ll make a beat, sometimes I’ll make an alternative rock cover of Out On The Weekend by Neil Young. When I have enough good ideas compiled, I go back through and flesh ’em out to make my projects.
The Portland Phoenix called you “the champion of the ugly.” Are you cool with that label?
As I say on the first track on The Peter Sparker Mixtape, “I’m no pretender/I’m the defender of the herbs and clowns.” Somebody’s gotta hold it down for the losers and the people driving Nissans and working 60 hours a week whether they’re ugly or not!
You make a lot of entertainment references on the album. Do you feel the need to stay up on pop culture so your references stay relevant?
Sure, but I don’t go out of my way to do so. You can pretty much go on Twitter or Facebook and see what’s culturally relevant. I’m not like, watching fucking E! News or anything.
What’s your favorite Parks and Recreation episode?
The one where Leslie Knope’s campaign bus runs into the memorial. Or has that happened in multiple episodes?
Is there anything you feel like you can’t do as a “middle class rap hero” from Maine? Any topics you can’t touch on?
I can’t touch on anything I didn’t experience personally. Luckily, most of the bases I can’t cover credibly have already been covered. I don’t make street music. I make road music.
Can you elaborate on that?
I can’t really speak for “the streets” however, I have seen some messed up, dysfunctional and traumatizing things in my life having grown up in rural Maine. So, although hip-hop (or gangster hip-hop more specifically) is often rooted in the struggles and dangers of urban life, I think my place is to enlighten people about the realities that I saw growing up that haven’t been yet represented in hip-hop.
What role do you think humor plays in hip-hop? And in your music specifically?
Emceeing has always been about moving a crowd and getting a reaction out of people and I think sometimes, for me especially, humor is a great way to do that. I use humor like I do in real life in my music. I’m not all dead serious all the time, I make jokes, I like pranking people. So, why wouldn’t my music also include humor? My music would be a dishonest representation of me if it didn’t include some hilarity.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
What’s your favorite lyric in The Peter Sparker Mixtape?
I can’t really choose because I have so many, but on “I’m Starving,” the line where I say, “You want filets on a plane? Well, them stakes is high” is some pretty ill wordplay and a nugget of wisdom all-in-one.
How’d you come up with the name Spose?
I got the name during Operation: Iraqi Freedom. It’s Farsi for “toboggan.”
Tour Dates For Spose:
6/09 – Portland, ME @ Old Port Festival
6/19 – Stockbridge, VT @ Ziontific Festival
7/12 – Portland, ME @ The State Theater
7/19 – Roxbury, NY @ The Come Up Festival
8/08 – Bangor, ME @ Kah Bang Festival