One of the dopest lyricists in Hip-Hop is Vic Spencer. He’s probably most known by casual fans for his well-publicized beefs with fellow Chicago emcees. Those in the know appreciate Vic for his skill, not for his social media comments. One person who recognized Vic’s skill is UK producer and emcee, Sonnyjim. The two collaborated on a cinematic full-length album titled, “Spencer for Higher.”
Spencer for Higher is produced entirely by Sonnyjim with one remix handled by Big Ghost Ltd. The album features appearances by Chris Crack, Hus Kingpin, Verbal Kent, Quelle Chris, Hex Murda, and DJ House Shoes. Spencer for Higher comes courtesy of Daupe Records.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Vic Spencer about his contentious relationship with some Chicago rappers, why he’s hungry for more in Hip-Hop, and collaborating with Sonnyjim on their new album, Spencer for Higher.
TRHH: Who came up with the title ‘Spencer for Higher’? It’s so dope.
Vic Spencer: It was House Shoes, man. I took a trip out to L.A., I already had the idea in my head to use the actual “Spencer for Hire” from the TV series. He was like, “Nah you should change it to ‘Higher’ as in getting high! That’s awesome!” I was like, “Man, Im’ma run with that!”
TRHH: How did you link up with Sonnyjim?
Vic Spencer: Twitter, man. Twitter made that happen. Somebody said that they would like to see a Sonnyjim and Vic Spencer collab and sure enough we ended up reaching out to each other based on that. I think that we were familiar with each other’s work but we needed that extra energy to make something happen and that’s exactly what happened.
TRHH: What was the process like working with him?
Vic Spencer: Ah, man. He’s from the UK, I never met him. You base it off the music that they’re making when you can’t be hands on with an artist and working with them. We just had all e-mail conversations. We had no phone conversations. Once he sent the production it was pretty much a wrap. I just gathered the beats until I compiled it all into enough to make an album. Then I just went full-fledged from there. That’s how we were able to get it done and it got done in less than a year.
TRHH: It seems like the drums were not in the forefront of Spencer for Higher. Did that make it difficult for you to rhyme to some of the beats?
Vic Spencer: Absolutely not. I wanted to show versatility. Any time I come out with a record it sounds like it’s more of a conversation anyway. So I wanted to kind of take away from all the tricks in the trade as far as beat making and just leave the cinematic part to be the forefront.
TRHH: On the song ‘Bleek Gilliam’ you said, “I never felt caged, just limited,” explain that line.
Vic Spencer: I feel like at this point of my career musically I’ve always been able to say what I wanted to say, I’ve always been able to be myself, and I never been that guy that’s been in the box. My resources are limited. I’ve never had an A&R, I’ve had never PR work — I’ve never had any of that. It kind of limited me from making the best impact.
TRHH: Don’t you feel like you’ve made a big impact regardless?
Vic Spencer: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely but you still gotta be hungry. You still gotta want more. You still gotta have that hunger.
TRHH: You’ve had some back and forth arguments with a few Chicago rappers. Is your desire to not be lumped in with the Chicago rap scene the reason for friction with other artists?
Vic Spencer: I just rebel on a lot of artists. It don’t have to be Chicago artists, it just sucks that it’s from my city. When I started to see how some of these people are I just started to speak my mind. It goes back to “never felt caged, just limited” I just like to speak my mind. Sometimes it ruins relationships, it burns bridges instead of building them. It’s kind of a difficult task to look at it like I’m a guy that’s going to speak my mind and leave it at that, respect it, and keep it moving. We’re in this sensitive world now so you can say something and it can come and go or it can sit in feelings. Normally when I speak it sits in feelings. If you’re speaking and it ain’t touching nobody soul, then what you speaking for? If you’re rapping and it ain’t touching nobody soul, then what you rapping for? It’s all the same approach to me.
TRHH: The sensitive part – I’ll be honest, I don’t know who any of these guys are but I always read the headlines about young Chicago rappers in beef and shooting each other. Do you think being sensitive is related to that?
Vic Spencer: It depends on how deep you wanna go. Sensitivity is still an emotion and a lot of emotions always display when something is not around. That goes for anywhere. It’s a piece of the puzzle missing. Maybe it’s not enough love in the crib, maybe their father is not around, maybe they don’t have enough positive friends that’s doing something, and maybe they don’t have guys that’s influencing one another. The only influences are the street cats that are getting the money fast and they seeing that but they don’t see what that man’s gotta go through or the consequences that he’s already made up in his mind that, “If I go get this fast money chances are I’ll end up dead or in jail.” It’s a lot of people that see that but they don’t see that aspect that they could end up dying or in jail. When you speak about sensitivity in a violent sense it definitely could be. It’s a lot of answers, but I definitely think that’s one of them.
TRHH: One Chicago rapper that you worked with on Spencer for Higher is Verbal Kent. When I interviewed him he spoke highly of you. What was it like working with Verbal?
Vic Spencer: I’ve been a fan of his work for quite a long time. When I found out that Sonnyjim was real tight with him it just made sense to open the door for him and feature him on the album. I think it was a great look and perfect timing. I was listening to his work while I was in college in 04-05. It was not a lot of that coming out of Chicago. I was always one of those types of guys still in tune with the underground scene in Chicago. I learned about Verbal Kent through iTunes. Nobody ever put me on or nothing, I was just searching iTunes one day and stumbled on his music and felt like, “Yo, this is pretty dope. And he’s from Chicago? Okay!”
It kind of boosted me to see that there was some real lyricism going on in Chicago outside of E.C. Illa, who is a Chicago legend as far as a person who fits my rap personality. He had numerous times to sign a major deal and just rebelled. He stayed to his roots and people respected him for that. To see another top tier rapper at that stature in the early to mid-2000s was something great for my ear, man. I was blessed to have even heard of Verbal Kent. It’s a lot of people from Chicago that still don’t know who Verbal Kent is. He’s a rare gem in the game and he’s heavy consistent. Every time he drops something it’s crazy.
TRHH: I interviewed this guy Scofield and he said the Chicago Hip-Hop scene doesn’t have a definitive sound and that’s our biggest problem. He said that we kind of take from the east, west, and south and flip it our own way but we don’t have our own sound. I kind of disagree with that, but what’s your take on it?
Vic Spencer: I would disagree, too. It depends on what kind of sound. We’re like a big pot of gumbo. We originated the drill stuff. Even though it might not be shit that we listen to it still was invented here. You got my sound of hardcore Hip-Hop, you got the soul trap with MC Tree, and you got the SaveMoney wave – the weirdo raps. I’m not even listening to a lot of guys so I can’t give a real ass description of who makes this kind of music but I know it’s some artists that’s out here that’s really focused on originality. A lot of Chicago rappers are in tune with the drill stuff and they aren’t finding their own identity so they’re doing the drill stuff, too. I can see why he would say that. That would be a reason to say that because there aren’t people gravitating to their own originality and own style. We invented the drill music, we invented the soul trap, and I feel like I’m the Redman of Chicago or the Sean Price of Chicago. There are no guys from Chicago that are spitting on a humorous, lyrical level.
TRHH: I’ve seen you tweet about your status as far Chicago emcees. Who is in your top 5 from the city of all-time?
Vic Spencer: All-time?
Vic Spencer: Man, shit. First on my list would be E.C. Illa. Number two would be Kanye. Number three would be Chris Crack. Number four MC Tree. Number five Lupe.
TRHH: I wasn’t expecting some of those names. That’s dope, man!
Vic Spencer: I’m not listening to Lupe in 2018, I’m not gonna flex with you. I listen to a lot of MC Tree and I listen to a lot of Crack. If I wasn’t rapping I would be saying that these guys are the guys to rock with if you’re trying to link with Chicago rappers. I still would say that even though I am a rapper. I be wanting to get them on all my songs.
TRHH: Earlier you mentioned being hungry but what’s the hunger for? What’s your goal in Hip-Hop?
Vic Spencer: Number one I want to have that respect. Money ain’t the reason why I started making music so I can’t say money. But I definitely would say shit like being in the vicinity of wanting to do it. You just want to do it. You want to rap and be able to record. You don’t care if you’re on two radios – one to record and one is playing the instrumental. You just want to record. That right there teaches me to be hungry. I feel like I have that mentality when I’m recording in a recording studio. How can I top the last song that I did? How can I top the last album that I did? I feel like the hunger comes from me wanting to do it. Literally I’ll stop driving if somebody sends me a beat pack and I hear a raw ass beat. I will pull over and jot some shit down. My goal is to forever feel like that. Also I want to touch lives and touch souls with whatever I say. I want to be able to touch people. I know I say a lot of funny shit and crazy shit in my bars, but if they’re laughing or have some kind of weird feeling or don’t like it, it’s a feel! If you feeling then you make an impact within yourself. I want to be able to continue to work. I don’t want to have writer’s block. I never felt like I had that. I just want people to respect the Vic Spencer name. I feel like Baby, man. Put some respect on my name. Everything else is what’s missing.
People put some respect on it instead of looking at my Twitter feed and basing that off my whole life, they’ll have better means of respecting me. Say a person that don’t like me but are highly favored by a lot of people, if that one person says Vic Spencer is trash you got eight other little cock buffers following suit feeling like they can say any old thing about my name based off what that person said. Not because they have their own reason to dislike Vic Spencer, they just saw that someone else that they like doesn’t like me. They don’t have their own reason. That’s the weight of the world. If somebody put some respect on my name then those eight little trinklets wouldn’t be nothing. Those big giants that’s doing all the Vic Spencer trash talk I just show and prove. Prove them wrong. No matter how many wars I done been through, no matter how many Twitter back and forth’s I done been through, nobody has been able to stop me. That’s facts! I don’t like tooting my own horn but that’s facts right there. As many times as people have run their mouths about Vic Spencer in this negative tone they have yet to stop me. Every time I drop an album I get the same love – every time. Nobody has ever said, “Vic Spencer is a wack rapper” after an album dropped, never! They always say it when somebody else says it, not because the album dropped, that’s facts.