Deem Spencer is a rapper who isn’t afraid to blaze his own trail. Spencer doesn’t sacrifice authenticity for the sake of creating emotionally-driven music, but instead remains 100% true to himself and seeks to create music that accurately reflects his life and mindset, allowing him to connect with his listeners on a deeper level.
Early in his career, Spencer struggled to find the genuine, true-to-self sound that grew to become his signature style.
“Early on when I was trying to figure out what my unique story was, I imitated a lot of stuff I appreciated for music,” Spencer tells “Making It,” a co-production between In The Know and Complex. “So like, with Eminem, he was just very depressed. And Kendrick, his stuff was very hood. So I was writing a lot of stuff that was inspired by other people’s narratives. And then, real personal things started happening to me.”
Once Spencer started gaining more personal experiences, he was able to reflect positive emotions into his music, which helped soften the darker, more emotional themes that were prevalent in his early work.
“I was having fun for like, the first time in my life,” says Spencer. “I’d say that’s when I was like, really finding my voice, and I started talking about myself and it got less depressing.”
For Spencer, the “sad” nature of his music was never a true reflection of his actual life or upbringing. Instead, he felt he needed to adapt a certain emotion in order to gain success as a musician.
“My life was never bad. But there’s like, a lot of pressure as a rapper to, you know, put some pain in the music,” explains Spencer. “So early on, a lot of my music was painful and I couldn’t relate, and people couldn’t vibe with that type of stuff.”
When Spencer started opening up, and exposing listeners to his lighter side, he was able to form a stronger connection with his songs.
“When I started just having more fun with it, and just speaking from the heart, that’s when I liked my music,” he says. “And it actually was about me.”
To Spencer, finding the right balance between remaining genuine and not losing relatability is essential to his message. To remain relatable, Spencer will throw some jokes or “something that’s not so serious,” into his songs. But at the end of the day, it’s Spencer’s emotional transparency that’s helped establish his growing fanbase. “The [songs] where I’m really genuine always connect with more people,” he says.
Spencer understands that emotionally-driven rap music is as popular as ever, and he doesn’t shy away from the fact that the commercial success of his music boosts his self esteem, and pushes him to keep creating.
“It gives me a sense of purpose,” he says. “I feel like I’m in the right era where somebody like me can have millions of plays.”
Despite his growing fame, Spencer is happy to remain understated, preferring to stay close to the ground while never losing sight of what makes him and his music unique.
“I prefer not to be like, so forward in my work, versus the more outspoken, louder faces of hip-hop,” says Spencer. “But aside from that, I’ve never seen a ‘Deem Spencer.’”
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