Spose balances sarcasm with sincerity on new album

It’s understandable that Spose, the Wells-based hip hop artist known on his driver’s license as Ryan Peters, would get a little prickly when he’s asked about being a rapper from Maine. He’s been asked that question, I would assume, approximately 9,000 times. Why should he have to justify anything? Why is hip hop in Maine still considered such an oddity?

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from. What matters is how honest you’re going to be in your music,” said Peters, 26. “I do think that Mainers in general aren’t flashy people, and they tell it like it is. Hip hop is rooted in people that get the details right, and I think being from Maine is a plus in that regard. If you’re telling the story right, I don’t think it matters if you’re from Maine or Brooklyn or California. People respond to that.”

People certainly are listening to Spose, as his new album, “The Audacity,” dropped two weeks ago and landed at number seven on the iTunes hip hop charts, along with a hilarious video for the single “Gee Willikers.” Recent shows in Portland, Farmington and Bangor were mobbed with fans of all ages. Since breaking with Universal Republic Records, the major label that courted him two years ago when his single “I’m Awesome” blew up, he’s been busy writing and producing all his own music on his own label, P. Dank. 2010 might have seemed like it was the year of Spose, but if the quality of the music Peters has been producing this year is any indication, 2012 might take 2010’s place.

“With this album, no one really told me what to do. I did it all on my own,” said Peters. “I produced it myself, which is a big departure. I really started to blend my alt rock and rap influences. I played guitar, I wrote songs. It doesn’t fit any particular genre. I also think it’s a deeper, darker album. I’m really proud of it.”

Make no mistake: while the music bleeds over into rock much more than his previous releases “Preposterously Dank” and “Happy Medium” ever did, “The Audacity” is still definitely a Spose album. At least, in the sense that lyrically it walks the line between dead serious and dead funny. Peters has always managed to say things that are sarcastic and clever, while simultaneously feeling totally sincere. That’s a tough balance to strike, but for Peters, it comes naturally.

“It’s a conscious effort, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort on my behalf. That’s naturally what comes out of me,” he said. “I like to take a serious subject and give it a snarky edge. I don’t want to bore people to death.”

So when Spose talks about religion, suicide, bullying and other tough subjects, he does it with a sense of humor that’s hard to resist, against a backdrop of beats that set him apart from his peers. He’s not mainstream (B.o.B., Flo Rida); he’s not indie (Odd Future, Childish Gambino); and he’s not Mr. Sensitive (Kanye West, Drake). He’s something of his own genre, and that’s a big part of why he’s had such success so quickly. Since bursting onto the scene two years ago, however, Peters has learned very quickly some of the perils of hitting it big – hence the break with the major label and the leap forward, on his own terms.

“It was definitely cool, in that I saw what it was like to have money, and go to different places and how the whole system worked,” said Peters. “But I diverted from my plan. You have to stick to the script that you’re writing for yourself. Don’t do things that you know you wouldn’t normally do. Don’t stray from the path you’ve created”

“The Audacity” is available on iTunes and at Bull Moose Music locations. Visit pdank.com or look Spose up on Facebook for info on upcoming shows and releases.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a University of Maine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, taken belly dancing classes, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.