Spose’s beyond “Awesome” take on the music biz

Spose's Peter Sparker Mixtape is available for free download.

Spose’s Peter Sparker Mixtape is available for free download.

Three years ago, Spose became famous for his hit song “I’m Awesome.”

(You know it! “I’m awesome  / No you’re not, dude don’t lie …”)

But what came next wasn’t so awesome. The song landed Spose (real name: Ryan Peters) a deal with Universal Republic, but his album with the big label never actually came out. So he was left with an identity crisis: searching for his next professional step, wondering if he’d have enough money to support his daughter and keep his house.

“I was wondering if I could sustain all that, and what it all means,” says Spose, 27, who wrote a dark, moody album called “The Audacity” that he admits “was a reflection of my mood while writing it.”

Spose isn’t the first musician to do this. Eminem, for example, has produced his own yin-and-yang albums, balancing deeply dark and personal work with his signature aggressive, thought-provoking and humorous music.

It’s worked for others, and it worked for Spose who, in his next album, became determined to portray his true personality and have people finally “get him” as an artist and a person.

After the release of his hit "I'm Awesome", Spose learned about the harsh realities of the music business and public perception. (Photo by Peter Jensen Bissell)

After the release of his hit “I’m Awesome”, Spose learned about the harsh realities of the music business and public perception.
(Photo by Peter Jensen Bissell)

That sense of strength and security comes through in his recently released “The Peter Sparker Mixtape.” It has no made-for-radio pop songs, but lots of wordplay and lyrical verses. It’s almost as if Spose was an edgy English teacher. (Check that – he could be! He went to school for it.)

In the announcement of the album’s release, Spose said, “Honestly, (it) sounds a lot like the proper follow up to my first album that I would’ve made if I hadn’t ever signed with Universal.”

Spose funded the mixtape, which is available for free download, and his next project, Dankonia, through a Kickstarter campaign. Surviving as an independent artist is an intense amount of work, something Spose needs to remind himself every time he chooses to kick back and chill instead of doing something to further his music career.

“Even to this day I’m fighting the natural urges of the human condition,” he says.

Spose is a hard-working, smart guy. Honestly, before we first got on the phone with him, we weren’t sure what to expect. There’s a ghetto-to-riches hip hop stereotype that’s been thrown in our faces repeatedly online, on MTV, and awards shows for years. You know the stereotypical (and often close-minded and unfair) reactions: They probably do drugs … Oh, they must not be intelligent … They don’t teach good lessons … They don’t take their career seriously.

Not that every hip hop artist come across that way – there are many, many who don’t – but Spose’s hit “I’m Awesome” seemed to celebrate it.

Turns out, though, “I’m Awesome” is misunderstood – and so is its creator. The song was meant to be a satire about other artists letting fame go to their heads. Instead, many people took it literally.

“’I’m Awesome’ really didn’t work to the benefit of me in that people thought I was a joke,” he says, “when really I was trying to make a joke that everyone else was a joke for trying to make songs about how great they were.”

What is Spose for real? A college English major who took two things that had admits sound socially “incompatible” and combined them.

“I loved English and I loved music,” he says. “What better place to go with that than being a lyricist and especially a hip hop lyricist, where you get to put 700 words in a song as opposed a rock song that maybe has 90 words.”

That’s no joke. But it is an “Awesome” idea!

Jordann Luce, LSY reporter, with Tim O’Shei, LSY founder

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