Blvck Spvde’s myriad skills are on display on “Hopeless and Romanticizing” the St. Louis rapper/producer/singer’s first album in several years (maybe).
Hip-Hop, Soul, R&B
“After” is the first track I heard off of the album (on the Jenkinz and Jonez podcast). It took a little hunting to find Blvck Spvde (make sure you type those v’s), but it was worth it.
So yeah, the album has some hip-hop. Notably “After”, “That Bop” and “Revolving Doorz.” Even the hip-hop on the album, however, doesn’t appear as one might expect. When I heard “After” I thought I would get a straightforward album of soulful hip-hop. The very next track takes a right turn and continues to zig-zag from that point on.
Songs start as one thing and end with a verse. “By Yo Side” starts as an R&B song and ends with a hip-hop verse. It doesn’t feel like a verse, it feels like the song is being extended and bent back towards its hip-hop roots. A similar thing happens on “Revolving Doorz.” On that track the vocalist isn’t Blvck Spvde but a female artist (uncredited on Spotify).
In fact there are several times when it’s difficult to know exactly who is the vocalist on a given track. The takeaway here is that it’s unimportant. I went into “Hopeless and Romanticizing” with assumptions, but it turns out that Blvck Spvde is the architect of a sound. Think of him as a pilot guiding the ship using the various tools in his arsenal.
For the most part “Hopeless and Romanticizing” offers a soulful soundscape. “A Toast to the Quiet Life” and the aptly named “That Bop” are notable departures. The last two tracks on the album, both rely on jazz samples and guest verses.
“Hopeless and Romanticizing”
Blvck Spvde is from St. Louis and he does a little bit of everything. This profile from the River Front Times written in 2010 contains some excellent information on the underground rapper. Apparently he’s been at this for a while (he’s 41 now), he runs (ran?) a local collective called The Force, he is self-taught and he is incredibly selfless.
That’s the only explanation for why Blvck Spvde isn’t more famous. As others have noted, when most think of St. Louis hip-hop they likely think of Nelly. Spvde offers an alternative to that sound made famous in the early aughts. His is a much more eclectic sound than what has previously been associated with the city.
This isn’t Spvde’s first release; here are some of them. Who knows how many other mixtapes, EPs and LPs exist that only lucky St. Louisans have heard (here’s one). With any luck, and with more listeners, hopefully those coffers will be open (and made easier to obtain) to the rest of us. And if enough people go out and support the music (BANDCAMP) we’ll get even more music or a solo tour or something.
Don’t take my word for it; go to bandcamp and buy the album (pay whatever you want) or listen to “Hopeless and Romanticizing” on Spotify. It gets better with every listen.