Rob Cave
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Rob Cave

Brooklyn, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Brooklyn, NY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Hip Hop Blues

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"Spec Boogie Speaks"

I’m starting this by showing a little love to Amelia (she runs tings) over at Put Me On It. She dropped a post about Spec Boogie’s Bed Stuy joint, which is fire by the way, a wee while back. Time being what it is, passed, and when I finally got to doing the research on the SB I was like “rah….man’s got SKILLS”. Lyrically, musically, visually, his vibes are on point. So, now I’m back in the hotseat and writing again , I figured it’d be a good time to link Mr Boogie and shine a light on his artistry….presenting, Spec Boogie:

So who is Spec Boogie?

I’m just a simple dude from Brooklyn NY who loves art, women and hip hop.

Where are you based?

I’m based out of the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. My father was a native and he moved the family here from California when I was 3 years old.

Does your location affect your art?

Brooklyn has influenced my art for as long as I’ve been an artist. I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old a dude was shot and killed on my corner. About a week later I was going to the store for my mom and some writers were painting a mural for him and it was the first time I saw someone other than myself create a piece of art, from start to finish.

Talking of art, word is that you’re a pretty hot graphic designer too. Do you see similarities between your modes of expression? Do they tend to influence/relate to each other?

I’ve trained myself to keep them separate, most of the visual art I do nowadays is commissioned so I try to create to reflect my client’s point of view rather than my own. When it comes to my personal work, yes. I can’t write a song without thinking of the video, the cover, even clothes that match the song, it’s automatic. I really want to create a video for every song on my upcoming album. I don’t know how likely it is of happening, but I have ideas for every one. Either way, as long as I get to be creative, I’m happy.

Just out of curiosity, apart from your own Spec Boogie site, where else can we see your design work?

One recent project that I’m very proud of is the site for the J Dilla Foundation. The team over there was very clear, helpful and knew exactly what they wanted. They were perfect clients. Being that I’m one of the billions of MC’s who have rocked over his beats for mixtapes etc, I’m grateful to be able to say I gave something back. Shout out to Ma Dukes. Other than that a lot of the work I do is very corporate. I’ve been lucky enough to do work for the NBA, Def Jam, Ralph Lauren and many other brands that I grew up admiring.

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Your music is delivered via Loosie Music right? Is that your own label? Tell us about Loosie and what it represents…

Yes, Loosie is my baby. My goal is to build it into a creative agency rather than just a record label. The name Loosie is representitve of working class New York, here cigarettes are expensive so if you can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a pack, the corner store will sell you a “Loosie” or a single cigarette. I don’t know how much they are now because I don’t actually smoke cigarettes but growing up they were 25 cents. It’s just something that reminds me of the working class struggle that I try to represent through my music.

While we’re dealing with names, Lessondary is another that is linked with you. What is Lessondary and what should we know about it?

Lessondary is Tanya Morgan (Von Pea, Donwill & Ilyas), Che Grand, Elucid, The Red Giants & Aeon. There are other extended family members but that’s the core. We’re called lessondary because we are all students of the culture. Dope beats, dope rhymes, just dope.

So the Specflix thing. I was on your site recently and was so into what you’ve done that I watched each video from beginning to end in one sitting! What is Specflix? What was the inspiration to begin such a project and how have people responded to it?

Thank you, the response has been great. The inspiration came from wanting to challenge myself. I’m a bit of a movie buff and on previous mixtapes I’d taken Superfly and Do the Right Thing and made mashups so I figured it would be fun to do that for a whole project instead of just one or two songs. The idea to call it Specflix came from my boy Naturel.

Are all the Specflix beats yours? I really like the fact they all feel different.

Not all of them. Some were done by Von Pea, some by me, some are straight from the movie’s soundtrack and some are other people’s beats that happened to have sampled movies I like.

Which Flix is your favourite and why?

That’s a tough one. I think AKIRA might be my favorite becaue It’s the only beat I did on the project that wasn’t a simple 2 or 4 bar loop. I chopped up 3 different songs from the Akira soundtrack to make it but you can’t really tell because the whole soundtrack is drums and chanting. Other than that, I love all of the Von Pea produced tracks. He’s criminally slept on as a producer, one of the best out right now.

Outside of the Specflix series, where else can we hear Spec speak?

As far as projects out now, I am featured on all my Lessondary brothers’ projects. Donwill’s Don Cusack, Che Grand’s Everything’s Good Ugly, Tanya Morgan’s Brooklynati. just look for Lessondary and you’ll find me. I’m on a bunch of outside projects as well this year but none of them have been released yet.

Going deeper, what is important to you as an artist/human being (not that they’re mutually exclusive!)?

Damn son, that’s a tough one, haha. As both an artist and a human being I feel it’s important to be as honest as you can with your audience and with yourself, because when you are you don’t feel the pressure of conforming to outside opinions. It gets tough when money and business get involved but there is a balance, as long as you know what your goals are.

What drives you to create and what do you think the value of art is?

I create because that’s all I know how to do, I was raised by an artist to be an artist. What I love most about art is that it’s value is relative to whoever is experiencing it. As much as I like to be complimented on my work I love it even more when someone tells me something they got from my music that I didn’t even intend, it just shows how malleable art and perception are.

Looking forward, what is on the horizon for Spec Boogie?

Up next is a mixtape I’m putting together with the help of 2dopeboyz.com & okayplayer.com, it doesn’t have a name yet but it has a theme. That’s dropping in May, then the debut album, Introspective on June 1st. After that I may put out another Specflix, and I’m working on a project with Dego of 2000 black/4 Hero that’s going to be a bit of a departure from the traditional boom bap type stuff I usually do.

Who or what would you like to work with in the future?

That’s a loooooong list right there. At the top though is Brent Rollins. He’s a graphic artist who has influenced design as it relates to hip hop or “urban” media more than anyone I can think of. He has this kind of collage style that a lot of people do nowadays without realizing that it started with him. On the music side there’s Madlib, his beats are incredible and he’s a great example of a free artist, he seems to have mastered that art/commerce balance I spoke on earlier. And Buckwild because he’s the shit, crazy underrated.

Plug time. Where can we find your art? Links please!

You can find it all on specboogie.com if it isn’t there now. it will be.

Thanks for sharing Mr Spec Boogie. To continue in the giving spirit, here is a little something from SB to we. Its a Lessondary posse cut that didn’t make it to Spec’s Introspective LP because it didn’t fit the theme. Remember, if you like what you’ve heard/seen then make sure to head over to Spec Boogie’s site where you’ll find the whole Specflix series, links to all the Lessondary artists and much more besides.

- Shook Magazine & Heads High Music


"SPEC BOOGIE - INTROSPECTIVE (Album review) by Alex King"

"...Every so often we hear an emcee tear up a mic as a feature on a track, then we wait for their album. The are several examples of albums that people have been waiting on to introduce said emcee to the realm, some just as follow ups. Take 'Illmatic' by Nas, or 'Reasonable Doubt' by Jay-Z as examples, Biggie's 'Life After Death', Eminem's 'Relapse', Dr Dre's 'Detox' (chuckles). But throughout the underground (if you like) hip-hop community, an emcee by the name of Spec Boogie has had an anticipated album for a number of years...

...Well that album is finally here in the form of 'Introspective'...on first glance, a wave of disappointment hit me; only 11 tracks after all these years...But this collection of chosen songs shine true, bringing an exciting energy and honesty to hip-hop once again. We start off with the title track, the intertwining of horns and Spec's indecisiveness about what to rhyme bring images of sitting in the back room of a smoky bar, a glass of whisky in one hand and a set of cards in the other. From when the beat kicks in looping this familiar sample to when Spec has delivered his 32 bar verse, we immediately get an idea of what he's all about: Honesty, reflection, punchlines and awesome storytelling.


And indeed this doesn't disappoint! The album moves on to the anthemic 'Bed Stuy', a heart warming homage to the city where Spec Boogie hails from, the radio vocal sample flowing beautifully over simple kicks and snares. Lyrical experimentation comes through in abundance with the following track 'S.B', a simple 48 bar affair where Spec uses predominantly words beginning with S and B while making the subject matter relevant (not an easy task). Strong storytelling skills appear throughout 'Introspective', through 'The Stoop'; a song that documents the goings on by a Brooklyn stoop over a simple loop of guitar samples, unpredictable organs and horns flowing throughout the song, 'Memories'; a provocative story rap speaking on regret around his father's death, and 'Brother's Keeper'; Fictional storytelling centred around the points of view of two close friends dealing with the murder of a lover. Simple bragging takes place on the two awesome posse cuts 'Eviction Notice'; vicious snares and chilled guitar samples causing you to nod your head incessantly as Lessondary affiliates Tanya Morgan flow with ease, and 'Show up Drunk'; a fun posse cut conveying what happens when "the Lessondary Show Up Drunk". Reflection rears its' head throughout the album, particularly on 'Better than ever'; a feel good number speaking on blessings and dreams, 'Slave #1'; the determined piano samples and synthesisers conveying and enforcing that of Spec Boogie's drive to succeed, and the closing track 'Grow'; a laid back number speaking on mistakes and learning from them, the simplistic sample of 'Capricorn' making you want to chill and just listen.

All in all, 'Introspective' is an honest and extremely enjoyable album, short and sweet, and reminding us simply of what good hip-hop is all about (thankfully without preaching about how crap the radio is). The consistent jazz loops and drum samples evoke images of quality New York hip-hop, and, of course, it also makes me wonder what else is to come from this Brooklyn emcee..."

-Alex King - Code Emphasis


"Peter, Bjorn & John (And Spec Boogie)"

We already knew we weren’t the only ones wishing someone would loop up and repurpose the sad sack boom-bap of Peter, Bjorn and John’s “Amsterdam” (aka the group’s other whistle song). First Plastic Little dropped it in the middle of their set – whole song, straight up – while performing at Studio B a few weeks ago. Then our dude at Def Jam kept raving over IM about how he wanted to burn it on a CD for Ghostface. Now we check the inbox this morning, and lo and behold: a mixtape version of “Amsterdam” courtesy of BK emcee Spec Boogie, tacking on appropriately bummed-out verses at the beginning and end (download here, right click and save-as). Great minds think alike. - The Fader


"Spec Boogie "Show You How to Hustle""

That picture to the left look familiar? Yeah, sure it does. It’s a slightly Photoshopped rejiggering of Pharrell’s cover for the largely shit-upon In My Mind, and it corresponds to the record from former art school student and current Brooklyn rapper Spec Boogie, who found Mind’s instrumental tracks and set about making them good. On My Grind is only the latest entry in the sampling-as-boldfaced appropriation trend that’s been happening on mixtapes since forever, but, due to its purposefully limited sonic pallette concept, Grind most strongly recalls Dangermouse’s Grey Album. The difference, obviously, is that Grind stays in the same genre ballpark as its source material, so it manages to stand on its own as a fully-realized record instead of a one-off choppy mash-up experiment that mostly appealed to stoners and Beatles freaks (ahem). It helps even more that Spec is a pretty good rapper with charisma to spare and an obvious sense of humor, and not just an opportunist with Garageband and a Myspace page. I don’t think anyone would turn down a beat from Pharrell, because they’re often pretty great, but the fact that he has neither rap skills nor charisma should stop you from buying the CD. Spec somehow got hold of the instrumentals for it though, and his version of “Show You How to Hustle” (mp3) is the best result. It takes its source material from the song at the end of Mind that actually brags about sipping wine and eating “a bundle of truffles.” I swear, Pharrell is just about the trust-fundiest, frattiest sounding rapper I can think of right now. But his main beat on that song, nothing more than a looped sustained organ note over some Questlove drumming, is stylish and minimal and funky as hell, like a random part of a Jimmy Smith record skipping over and over. It occasionally breaks into a quicker organ vamp, and then a weird and even skimpier conga beat, and that’s about it. And Spec is actually a surprisingly good rapper that drops a pretty damn specific and recent Entourage reference (”Play Ari and avoid drama”) in the same verse that he offers the magnificently phrased strategic warning to those seeking to live outside the law: “Think you can relax? Go on, get complacent. Soon as you take a vacation, agents move white through your hood, like gentrification.” God damn, this is miles and miles better than Pharrell’s. I don’t use the word “vainglorious” enough on this site, so I will now. This shit is straight vainglorious. That word’s on my mind because it was actually used in the subject line of the email I got yesterday about Spec. But it’s an appropriate term to use for comparison of Pharrell and Spec, because they’re both vainglorious—Spec because it takes chutzpah to take another man’s work, rejigger it and claim it’s better. It’s way better, by the way. Pharrell’s vainglorious because he’s a douchebag.

Don’t even think you’re gonna be able to pay money for this record, because if you did, Pharrell would make sure Spec went to jail. Here’s Spec’s Myspace, though—that’s about all I got. Oh, and the guy from Berkeley Place interviewed him. Looks like he’s got the whole album for download, too, so yeah, grab that. - marathonpacks.com


Discography

Grow (12" single) - 2004
Fresh Out The Box (mixtape) - 2005
Brass Knuckle Rap Hustle (mixtape) - 2006
Dollar Sign Language (mixtape) - 2007
Kid Gorgeous (mixtape) - 2008
Specflix (mixtape) - 2009
Introspective (LP) - 2010

Photos

Bio

With his streetwise demeanor and ferocious loyalty to Brooklyn, Rob Cave (formally known as Spec Boogie) happily falls into the category of an “old soul” – but his music is anything but dated. In fact, the guy is a trendsetter. Thanks to his nimble delivery, knack for wordplay (“I keep my face in an open page or some open legs / Either way I'm arching spines and I'm getting fed,” he raps), and ear for experimentation, the New York City product has been instrumental in cultivating the music, fashion and attitude embraced by the newest generation of Hip-Hop artists.

Hailing from the same corner where The Notorious B.I.G. once roamed, Rob Cave has seen more than his share of difficult times. While his childhood friends found themselves caught up in the violence and incarceration that plagued the youth of Bedford Ave. and Quincy St. in the 80’s, his watchful parents kept him out of the fray. In his teens, the household was shattered after both of his parents passed away in a three-year span. Rob Cave is neither preachy nor sensationalist as an artist, but these life experiences give him a certain gravitas – there’s a remarkable sincerity that weaves throughout his music. Even songs with less-than-weighty subject matter inherit the trait: when Rob says he’s going to roll a Dutch Master and steal your woman, you believe it.

After the passing of his parents, Rob sought refuge in Philadelphia, a decision that resulted in a tight affiliation with Questlove and the Grammy Award-winning group The Roots. Polishing his live stage show under the tutelage of the masters, he performed on several legs of Okayplayer tours. Upon returning to Brooklyn, he essentially founded the “streetwear” rap scene by releasing the single “Grow” with Lower East Side boutique Staple Design, dropping 10 Deep’s first mixtape (other artists who followed: Wale & Kid CuDi), and slapping verses on indie rock songs from LCD Soundsystem, The Black Keys, and M.I.A before it was de rigueur. Back in early 2007, Rob was the first rapper to use a Peter Bjorn and John record as a canvas – and his take on “Amsterdam” was described by the band as “great” and heralded by Fader, Gorilla Vs. Bear, and Nick Catchdubs.

Rob Cave’s critically acclaimed mixtapes include: Dollar Sign Language, On My Grind, Kid Gorgeous, and Specflix. His song and video for the single “Bed-Stuy” was featured on Nahright, OnSmash, a Japanese compilation on Wow/Now Records, the official mixtape for the film Brooklyn’s Finest and has enabled him to recently tour Europe and also make his successful debut in Africa performing at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. He has performed with artists including Kid CuDi, MF DOOM, Big Daddy Kane, Peanut Butter Wolf, Mos Def, Just Blaze and The Alchemist. Rob Cave’s latest album Books & Chicks & Brooklyn S#!t features Your Old Droog and Tanya Morgan.