One of the best lyricists in Hip-Hop currently is Chicago’s own Vic Spencer. His music is not reminiscent of Chicago’s drill scene or its conscious movement — Vic has his own lane. His rhymes are full of wit and depth, while being very much hood.
Vic’s latest release is a joint project with an equally eclectic artist, Big Ghost Ltd. The duo teamed up for an 11-track album called The Ghost of Living. The album is produced entirely by Big Ghost Ltd and features appearances by D. Brash, Q. Grav, Goose, and Alex P. Keaton.
Vic Spencer recently spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about The Ghost of Living, how he hooked up with the elusive Big Ghost, getting props from the late Sean Price, and his upcoming musical releases.
TRHH: How did you and Big Ghost link up for The Ghost of Living?
Vic Spencer: I hooked up with Big Ghost through a tweet. Somebody suggested my music to him. He went and listened and I guess he liked what he heard. I guess he was waiting for me to reach out to him. It was so quick. I saw somebody say something and then I heard the Griselda Ghost album. I liked dude’s production so I wanted to put it out there that I’d jump down on some Ghost production if I had the chance. He saw that, hit me up and was like, “I’ve been listening. The music is heavy. Let’s do something.” I just started recording instantly. He started sending me beats, I started recording, and we finished the joint in like two and a half months. It happened that quick and I didn’t think he was going to release it this year but going deeper into the project, the last few songs that we recorded made it sound real wintery. We wanted to make it sound like some “winter body bag slap box with polar bear” music.
TRHH: Big Ghost is a mysterious guy so what was the process like going back and forth while you were recording it?
Vic Spencer: We had a few phone conversations and a lot of it was through text. We’d dialogue through text what he’d like to hear. I was actually looking for him to be a critic to the work but just from working with him on this project he already has the self-belief in the person already that he works with. I’m looking for him to critique each song that I send him a reference to but he’s just excited with how fast I’d done the work and how effective it is. He was like, “Ah man, this is so cold!” and I was like, “Man, ain’t none of the songs wack?” [Laughs] That’s what’s up. It was just a process – sending him joints after I’m done recording. I would record a joint for our project every Saturday for two and a half months. I’d send him a reference and he was just going crazy. He mixed and mastered the project so he formulated everything – the track listing and how the tracks should flow. He did all of that and that’s a first for me because I’m normally the guy that does that. He has the same belief and faith that I do so we shared that. We have a lot of things in common – the music that we listen to, the age – the old villains win [laughs].
TRHH: Why did you release this project so soon after St. Gregory?
Vic Spencer: I wanted to have something like a quick strike album. I never did that before. I came out swinging early last year with Chris $pencer, the album with Chris Crack. Then I came out with a Best of, but it really wasn’t like a Best of. It was more some of my recent recordings that didn’t have a position on any album so I put a lot of those songs together. Some of my songs from previous albums are also on there. I put out St. Gregory as my main solo album. I didn’t think it was going to come out but Ghost really believed in dropping it this year. He hit me out of nowhere like, “I’m going to drop another artist’s project before ours,” and this was in between me recording so I wanted to knock all these songs out and get them out the way so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. That’s how I work. I’m sitting on 3-4 albums. With that it was easy for me to go ahead, finish, and knock it out. By the time I finished all the joints he was like, “You finished it so fast. I believe in it. I’m listening to it thoroughly, it sounds like a murder on Christmas album. Let’s drop it this year!”
We were really behind the scenes wondering if we could get it done. I said, “With the position of power that you’re in, your opinion is stronger than mine, I say yes. You go out there and put the word out and it’s going to do some numbers.” He believed in that and I’m glad that he did. St. Gregory got slept on, too. It got slept on kind of hard. I wasn’t expecting anything big from St. Gregory, but just coming off The Cost of Victory, the album that made it to Rolling Stone, so forth and so on, when I dropped this album I believed that it’s better than The Cost of Victory, it just didn’t get any of the publicity that The Cost of Victory did, so when Big Ghost hit me about dropping it this year I thought maybe this will be able to slap ‘em in the head and put a foot on their neck since they didn’t want to give me the praise that St. Gregory deserved. Maybe some people will go back and check out St. Gregory as well. It’s a double edged blade, it just happened so quick though.
TRHH: On Vicente Fernandez you kind of sent some shots at some rap cats. Do you feel out of place amongst your peers?
Vic Spencer: Absolutely, absolutely. It’s definitely speaking to that and I don’t have no problem with that, actually. Last year it came to me that I’m an individual, I’m not just a Chicago rapper. I had to stop looking for the respect from these new artists from Chicago and start building with legends that I believe in from Chicago or outside of Chicago. I don’t look at Chicago artists that I look up to as “Chicago artists” I look at them as legends. I started to put myself in that position and that form. It’s me getting it out of my system that I don’t need these young guys’ respect. I’m still gon’ chin check ‘em, and of course that’s what Vicente Fernandez did.
Also it’s just a sign of me moving forward in my career as a legend. It’s something that I’m trying to go after. You never seen none of my albums with none of these young rappers on it. You only see legends on there. That’s why I’m trying to move forward and not even think about or listen to what these artists are doing, because that’s what kind of got me off track and going at rappers in 2015. That’s definitely what Vic Spencer do, but Vic Spencer wasn’t made to come in the game and try to do publicity stunts and all of that. Vic Spencer wants to be a legend. I want to be around when you talk about Eminem, Hov, Westside Gunn & Conway, Sean Price, and Redman. That’s where I want my name to be mentioned, not with these Chicago rappers.
TRHH: Your rhyme style is different from almost everything coming out of Chicago. How did you develop your style of emceeing?
Vic Spencer: Right. I developed my style of emceeing from listening to a lot of off the grid rappers. I listened to Redman, Yukmouth, and Sean Price and started to formulate something that I could call my own. The beats do a lot of talking for me, too. If the beats fire and it touches my soul then I’m all over it. My style is not to be focused on one thing. When people listen to one of my songs they should learn more than one thing. I have no conceptual songs so I try to stay away from doing that type of stuff and teach things in the music. More conversational. We don’t talk to each other no more. We’re always on the phone or on social media. Humans don’t talk to people how they should or how they did when I was growing up. We had telephones. We had to run home if we wanted to talk. We met up with our friends and did stuff. We talked at the lunch table about different stuff. That stuff ain’t going on no more so I’m just trying to keep that alive in some sort of sense when I’m creating a record.
TRHH: On Adventures of Vic Spencer you reference how Sean Price gave you props before he passed. What was it like working with Sean and how much did his words mean to you?
Vic Spencer: Me and Sean Price developed a real good relationship before he passed – the last three years. I remember him calling me and telling me that I inspire him and that just did something to me, man. I didn’t let it resonate for a legend to look at me and listen to my music on a level that I listen to his. I took it serious but the words he was saying were way beyond me. He always was the type of guy that would spit a rap to me, tell me 1000 jokes, and then drop the real bombs on me. Sean Price was one of those guys that was telling me to rap over trap beats, believe it or not [laughs]. He would tell me, “Man, you need to jump on some Young Chop beats,” and I’m like, “Naw cuz, What? Are you kidding me? I’m not finna jump on that shit after listening to 5000 Sean Price songs. Come on, bro!” We dialogued back and forth about it and what his thing was, was, “Yo, you can be better than me.” He was one of those kind of guys. He said I didn’t need his co-sign. He said, “You’re the type of dude that can jump on a Twista beat and be rapping just like him.”
His whole metaphor behind it was, “I want you to look at it like I’m an old school car and you’re one of the euro cars. You can still drive around, I’m the car that pulls up on the block, get out, posts up, and everybody respects it. But you, you can move around out here. You don’t need a tune up every 3-4 months.” I thought it was pretty dope to get that kind of advice and push from an artist that I respect and looked up to. For one of my all-time idols to tell me that is amazing, man. I always hailed that high to my career because having a person like Sean Price back you is like finding a real diamond in the dirt because he don’t like nobody! He glorified it and people respect him for that. When he starting bigging me up, people respect that too. I’m going to always have Sean Price in my blood. That’s why he wasn’t on St. Gregory because he was there in my spirit when I was doing that album.
TRHH: You said you have four albums worth of material, so what’s next up for Vic Spencer?
Vic Spencer: I’m finishing up the second album with my brother Chris Crack. We go by a group called Chris $pencer. We got the tracks all done, we ain’t got a title yet, we ain’t got the art, but that’s what we’re working on right now. We’re just mixing and mastering. So that’s the next thing that I’m gonna drop. I plan on having an album with super-extraordinary producer A.Villa. He’s from Chicago as well. He put out a compilation with all of the Hip-Hop legends – Noreaga, Sean Price, Skyzoo, everybody was on his album. It was like a Kid Capri mixtape. He’s a DJ but he produced it, it’s crazy. I got an album with him on the way. I got an album with my boy Dr. Mindbender. He produced 4 or 5 joints on St. Gregory. He produced a lot of joints for me throughout my whole career, from the Walk Away music on down. He did a lot. I got my next solo album. I’m like 25 joints in. I’m going to pick like 12 joints, but I like to have 40 to 50 joints to pick from. That’s how I work, that’s how I get down. I’m halfway done with the recording process of my next solo album. Big Ghost said he wanted to do a part 2, but we ain’t started working on that yet. We’re gonna keep that under the wraps.
Then I got this other album called Women’s Bathroom. It’s basically me, one producer that goes by the name of O’Bounjour, and I just went and picked the dopest female rappers and put them on my album. It’s like 25 features with different women on the album. It’s narrated by a woman in the bathroom talking about what women talk about in the bathroom. We’re not accepted in the bathroom. It’s sort of like a manipulation for guys. That’s sort of how the concept came about for the album. The whole album is just about being accepted by women. It’s pretty dope, man. I’ve been working on that album for about seven years, man [laughs]. I ain’t gon’ even front. Every year I put something into it. I want people to care about female artists, especially female artists I rock with. I’m working on that. That’s a real deep project that you want to impress the teacher with, so I’m holding on to that. I’m just working, man. That’s what’s going on for Vic Spencer. It’s a working year and I’m just going to keep it flexing how Sean Price would want me to do it.