Ok, so we’ve all had some dealings with our trust issues as of late: debating the authenticity of social media hypotheticals personified, like Ice JJ Fish. In the literal sense, of course, he exists; he’s real but is he FOR REAL? Is he a brilliant troll or poor soul blind to which preposition best describes the laughter coming his way; maybe at bit of both, because whether we’re laughing at or with the kid, he’s getting online spins, right? However we now know how we react when someone looking and sounding crazy, but what do we do when the image brought forth to us produces a really dope project? Folks, let’s talk about Spooky Black. If you’re unfamiliar, feel free to take a moment to go listen. Matter of fact, go watch. Or watch then listen—whatever order you do it in, both MUST be done to really comprehend that he’s indicative of extraordinarily differentiating reactions.
Done? Great. Let’s dissect my thoughts together. A friend of mine, Mitch (@SooIceyBoy) and I have differing tastes in rappers to say the least, he’s a brick squad loyalist, Keef, Gucci–you get the idea. Me on the other hand, I’m a pretty apparent fundamentalist. But, he’s committed to the movement and the real underground stuff of that scene so, I have to love him for it. He sends me the text “Real good R&B”. I read the link “Spooky Black”
I’m almost positive it’s going to be an awful R&B jammie for a Friday night with your main side chick, ya know lime-a-ritas on ice. Real fancy sh*t. Sorry, Mitch don’t have time. Later on I click the link. I see a winter scape, in the woods reminiscent of the “Unforgivable” videos. At worst I’ll get a few cheap laughs. Not quite.
Upon the shaky camera panning up from this kid’s bare feet, to the mock turtle neck, all the way up to the stocking cap—all offensively milky—I was certain I was about to peep my first snuff film. Then we see him walk around the woods in the same ensemble but this time all in black, with a gold chain ala Fin Tutuola. Ugh, is that Fubu jersey? Was this kid misappropriating black culture in slow motion? Or is St. Paul like some third world country, just now receiving labels once stocked at Active Wearhouse. But then, after the ambient beat (by producer Greaf) comes on, I hear it “See my face when I slide through, everywhere I will find you.” The only concrete thoughts I could articulate through my wave of perpelxtion was that I really dug this song. Who was this horror-core Jon B. and where did he come from? I actually listened to the whole..Um..album (?) laughably entitled Black Silk, and heard some verses he spit, which were decent as well. Most of all, it was sincere and haunting. For a 15 year old and for a new comer (especially and separately) better than a lot of R&B mix tapes I’ve heard. I mean, it’s weird enough to gain some attention with enough utilization of a youthful vernacular to be palpable and very chill. The inevitable comparisons to James Blake in its ambiance and The Weeknd will be drawn not only musically in sound and drug references but in his elusiveness as of yet. One of his only personal tweets thus far being “Y’all don’t know what I’m like, y’all don’t act like you know me just listen to my music” and a picture of him with goggles on. Stop judging, I told you this was a WTF moment. Clearly by my floods of adjectives in sentences, I’m a stickler for words and I have to say *sigh* Spook’s lyrics aren’t bullsh*t either and even come quipped with a nice cadence to them:
“Wonder through the dead/with you caught up in my head
Thinking I’ma flip & fill my brain with lead
I’ma end my life without you/Baby, let’s just see what these clouds do
I’m not so perfect/Baby, yeah you’re worth it
Come right here
Girl let me see you work it
Now we closing curtains
Come right here”
As far as other recommendations go, I’d listen to the even-more-trippy “Forest Sounds” next…
and pretty much the rest of *sigh* Black Silk, as it’s really a whole mood album you’d have to experience to then critique, evocative of 2011’s House of Balloons. Unfortunately, for all my musings with words and tricks up my lexiconic sleeve, I offer no grandiose, scholarly predictions for Young Turtleneck. Hell, even as I write this, call-and-response suggestions are sporadically appearing in my head:
Maybe if he was re-styled? Nah, it wouldn’t feel as good then. Well, what if he took off the doo-rag? No, because how else would he ever know if he could get waves?
All in all, Spooky Black is refreshingly authentic, and I believe we, as the audience, are more uncomfortable watching him then he is in his own skin, which somehow makes any of his missteps less offensive. In today’s society, where Andy Warhol’s prophetic proclamation of a communal 15 minutes of fame turned into 15 seconds (with the help of Instagram, Vine and the like) Spooky Black’s natural audacity and musical talent have gotten people’s attention. And at the very core of being an artist who wants their work to resonate with the masses, isn’t that the point?