When the local community speaks of Vancouver-based artist Spotty Josif, there’s a resounding resolution that his bars are unparalleled and his sound is sonically unlike any other. Making his come-up alongside some of Vancouver’s finest artists, like Seth Kay, Dave Fields, and Manila Grey – we first heard of Spotty when he contributed an addition to the HICU soundtape which showcased a new age of Vancouver rappers who were redefining the rules of what it meant to come from the “West.”
That tape was released just over a year ago, and since its’ debut Josif has been making calculated and confident releases concluding with the recent release of his debut album, Spotty St Josif.
But while many of our readers are just learning about Spotty on this debut project, his seniority on the mic is quickly apparent and noticeably matched with matured production and smooth collaborations that define this as nothing short of a professional entry. With dark and brooding production matched with haunting vocals heard on tracks like “All About It,” listeners will soon come to the conclusion that this is an artist who shouldn’t be taken lightly – or without serious consideration as a hitter.
We caught up with Spotty to talk about this calculated introduction, the inspiration behind his seemingly dark lyrics, and collaborating with some of Vancouver’s most promising voices.
Q&A: Spotty Josif
HipHopCanada: Congrats on the album release – this has been something that we’ve been looking forward to receiving ever since we first heard you on the HICU sound tape. How does it feel to have your debut album out?
Spotty Josif: It’s unreal. The process of putting together music with people that I care about is the best part. It feels good to finally have something out that’s more personal.
HipHopCanada: I feel as though listeners are often drawn to you as an artist because of your unique sound and darker aesthetic. How would you describe the overall sound and approach of this project?
Spotty Josif: I really just write about what I see in my dreams. I don’t regret anything I say because it’s me talking. It’s funny how people view my music as dark when really I’m in my happy place.
HipHopCanada: For those who are just listening to you for the first time – what do you want listeners to take away from this experience about you as an artist, or about the project?
Spotty Josif: To be honest they can take my album however they want. Good or bad, I’m just glad that if people relate to my album in any way, I’m not the only one. When it comes to lyrics and headspace I definitely feel alone during the creative process, but I get a lot of advice and guidance through people I really care about when it comes to production and visuals.
HipHopCanada: One thing that immediately stands out is the high production value that you deliver. Who handled production, and who else contributed to raising the quality of this project, sonically?
Spotty Josif: I owe Matthew Harvey and Phelonies my life. Those two producers have played a major role in helping me create. My first joint produced by Phelonies was “Pastel.” As soon as I heard the turn out, all I thought was, “we gotta make more.” Matthew Harvey def’ kept the quality of the sound up to date. I’m so used to making raw sounding material but Harvey’s the guru behind how dope it sounds. Shout-out to Dave Fields, Derek Carson and Grey Killer (New York) for also contributing to the project.
HipHopCanada: Over the last year we’ve watched you refine and develop your song-writing. It feels as though those efforts really shine through on tracks like “Ride Around Shining.” What kind of work went into your progress behind the scenes, and to get you to this point?
Spotty Josif: First off, I want to pay homage to The Clipse. “Ride Around Shining” is a name of a song on their critically acclaimed, “Hell Hath No Fury.” Without that album, I would never have learned how to be aggressive on a track. There’s no other phrase tougher than that. There’s a lot of things I say on that song that needed to be said. I don’t think there’s much negativity towards each other in our city, but I do believe that we don’t acknowledge each other as artists enough.
As for things behind the scenes, I’ve just been living my life as it comes. Anything is inspiration. The people that are surrounding me push me everyday to become a better artist from visuals, writing, or just even jammin’ shit in the studio we know we won’t release.
HipHopCanada: You brought on West Coast artists Manila Grey, Seth Kay, and Nara V for features on the project. How did those collaborations come about?
Spotty Josif: Seth Kay is one of my best friends. There’s no way I can drop a debut without the homie. I’ve learned so much from him. I’ve known Manila Grey for a long time and it’s great to see them killing shit. I was honoured to have them on a song. Nara V been my homegirl since day one. She was featured on my very first mixtape I put out back in 2015. I just want to put my friends on.
HipHopCanada: You dive into a wide range of topics on the album. What’s your writing process like, and what kind of things did you go through this last year that helped influenced the project?
Spotty Josif: A lot of the album is inspired by women I know. Women leave a huge impact in my writing. I also talk about my father a lot. Almost every song I have a line about him. I feel as if my demons are a bit more controlled and I’m comfortable with them.
HipHopCanada: What’s something that you want your fans to know about you?
Spotty Josif: I’m an introvert. As arrogant, obnoxious and aggressive as I am on a song, I’m pretty chill & timid. I really like silence and being alone.
HipHopCanada: How has being part of the West Coast music community influenced you as an artist, if at all?
Spotty Josif: It’s influenced me too much. A lot of artists from here tend to take the safe road cause they know it’ll pop off. Once everyone starts sounding the same, there’s nothing special about that. I’m really just trying to do me and i’m grateful to have a different, edgier swag than everyone else. It’s not for everyone and I’m cool with that.
HipHopCanada: Do you feel as though this project gives listeners an accurate idea of who you are, both personally and artistically?
Spotty Josif: Most definitely. I feel with anything I put out in the past, it was more me finding myself and experimenting. I feel more at home with this album.
HipHopCanada: What’s next for you, and can we hope to see you performing live in the near future?
Spotty Josif: 2018 you’re definitely going to see more music videos. I’m very visual with my writing so it’s gonna be a lot of fun. As for performing, i’m just waiting for the right show. Shout-out to everyone involved in my life.
Follow @SpottyJosif on Twitter.
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