SPZRKT: “Being Labeled As A Christian Artist Stifled My Creativity”

SPZRKT has been a long-time Into The Urban favourite so when we heard that he was going to perform in Brussels, we knew we had to be there. On February 17 he performed at De Beursschouwburg with Sango and we managed to have a sit-down with him before the concert. We talked about his open letter to the Christian Hip Hop community, Kirk Franklin making a song with Kanye West, Hours Spent Loving You Part II and much more.

Where does the name SPZRKT come from?

It was just a nickname one of my friends in college, I called her Pluto, came up with. We used to chill in the cafetaria and watch MTV on the screens all the time. At that time the song Spaz by N.E.R.D was very popular and I always got up to do the dance Pharrell did in that video. She saw me do it like two or three times and she started calling me Spazzy. I thought it sounded cool so I just went with it. I added the ‘Rocket’ because I was in a group at the time and we were doing a Star Wars theme. After the group ended I took the vowels out to get a fresh start and it’s worked out so far.

When did you first get into music?

I’ve been into music from the woomb. My whole family is all about music. My brother and father studied music in college and they both play bass/drums/piano. My sister and my mother are both singers. I’m the youngest, so when you’re born into a family like that, it’s almost like they’re waiting to figure out which talent you have. For a long time I was all about drumming and rapping. I got into singing when I was 17 but I only made a career out of it when I turned 22 so that’s only been three years.

You started out as a Christian artist, but in 2015 you wrote an open letter saying that you no longer wanted to be labeled as a Christian artist. Why did you feel the need to get out of that box?

It really is a box! That community still doesn’t understand eachother in a lot of ways. They hold eachother to standards which at times they themselves might find a little harsh. God giving up his life is the greatest act of love that we all have ever known and one of the greatest commandments is love your neighbour as you love yourself. So I find it weird when I write a song about love, wether it’s between me and Him or between me and a person, and I don’t say a particular name that I literally get hammered and get asked why the song isn’t about God because you can like somebody and the record doesn’t have to be that way. It was just so weird for me to be in that space, because it would kind of stifle me creatively. That crowd wants a specific thing, and I’m not giving them that so in order to have the music and the art fully appreciated and to be where I belong, I needed to step outside of that. I have the same friends, my faith is no different, my life really is not different at all. I just had to take my music into a different space because it just didn’t make sense. At that point you have to differentiate and say ‘Okay, this is what I’m doing and you’re not holding me this specific standard anymore because that’s not what I’m doing.’

Kirk Franklin, who is one the pioneers of Christian Hip Hop, is featured on Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam which is on his latest album The Life Of Pablo and he faced a lot of backlash for it. How do you feel about that?

That’s so stupid. What Kirk did is amazing, but the backlash is so stupid, it’s just dumb. One of the bases of our faith is that you’re never too far away for God to redeem you and reconsile. I mean, who are we to claim that someone is unredeemable? What Kirk did is what we’re supposed to be doing. In a lot of ways, this is exactly what Jesus would do, to go and be with people that we think are less there. That’s how you build relationships, that’s how you build trust and from there that’s how you’re able to share your faith and they make the decision from there but even if they don’t make the same decision that we have made you have to love your neighbour as you love yourself. The people who don’t understand that are the ones who were throwing stones. It’s just stupid and it makes us all look dumb.

SPZRKT 2

How did you and Sango connect?

He actually found me on the internet. I didn’t know who he was and he wanted to send me some beats. I didn’t like any of them because I didn’t get it yet and when he sent me a beat called Middle Of Things I was like: Okay, I like that title, let me do something with this. I did it really nonchalant like in one take and I really didn’t expect that song to blow up the way it did. When I put it out, he reposted it and it really blew up and at that point in my career I had never seen so many plays. After that I realised that I was working with a genius without knowing it. I started learning and understanding the styles and all of a sudden it all made sense because I didn’t know anything about the beat scene. He kind of took me from under that rock and put my talent out for people to see as well.

Will you be dropping another collaborative project with Sango?

We would both love to do a part two. We’re already in the process of selecting beats and we would like to drop the project before the end of the year.

Which impact has being affiliated with Soulection had on your carreer?

Because they’re friends and they’re family they were willing to take a nobody and use the resources they have they put my name out there. Their impact on my career has been really huge. A lot of people think I’m a part of Soulection while I’m not officialy a part of it. I’m a part of STRT TRBL which is the record label I’m signed to but the fact that they put my music in a place where I could never have put it is one of the greatest favours somebody’s ever done for me. Soulection pushing my music is one of the main reasons that I’m able to do this tour with Sango. I’m very grateful to them and it’s been very cool.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a project dubbed All Of This Is Temporary. I’m calling it a mixtape because it doesn’t have the proces of an album but it’s still very good music and I want to share it. I’m tweaking it here and there because I’m in this new zone. I’m also working with Sango on Hours Spent Loving You Part II as well.

Photography by Tehillah St.

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