Ryan Peters grew up in Wells, Maine loving the Boston Celtics and bumping to Alternative Rock and Rap. Little did Peters know, when his band kicked him out during the freshman year of high school, it would be the beginning of a phenomena and spark a passion that would take him to the golden heavens of radio.
Known today by his 10,000-plus followers on Twitter as Spose, Peters has seen nearly every aspect of the music industry. Spose began rapping as an extracurricular activity in high school and then blossomed into a musician worthy of a record deal. He's been on the top of the world with a record deal and also had to put out an album under a façade of a label. But he does it for the love of rhymes and the love of music.
Spose first hit the radio waves when his song "I'm Awesome" received airplay on Maine radio stations in January 2010 and ultimately permeated throughout the nation. Today, he's ready for the next step in his career, living life with his independent label, Preposterously Dank, LCC and his new album, Peter Sparker, which drops today, June 10 as a free download.
The album is the product of funds Spose raised from a mixtape he sold on Kickstarter. "I called it the Yard Sale," Spose said. "It was a 20-song CD of all the shit I had never released that I had in the attic, you know?"
I recently caught up with the New England product to talk everything from free styling, his confusing record deal fail and his newest album.
What originally interested you into rapping?
I was in this alternative rock band in junior high and the beginning of high school and I got kicked out of the band. So, I started like a side project called the Frothy Four, which was a rap group with a few seniors in high school. I was making them artwork and they were making me beats and I was making them beats. I felt pretty cool because I was a freshman hanging out with the seniors. At that point I was just rhyming and by the time I was a senior, I took rapping pretty seriously.
What do you think made you good at rapping and free styling?
I feel like 90 percent of free styling is just confidence, like blind arrogant confidence. And I was a pretty arrogant little punk [laughs], so I was pretty good. But, I was also writing a lot. We made three albums worth of material in high school. I had made 60 tracks, so I definitely worked at it and was always trying to make everyone practice and spend any money I had on studio time.
What was your best rapping moment or memory in high school?
I was on the soccer team, but I wasn't good. I was just the rapper kid on the team, you know [laughs]? So the whole team would go into the woods before a game and kick a beat. I 'd spit the rhymes to get everybody hype before we'd run out. Then I'd be rhyming on the warm up track, it was tight. On the bus one time, after we won a playoff game -- and this was probably the biggest moment in the history of Spose to everyone on that bus -- some kids were like, 'try to rhyme everybody's name on the bus.' So I did. I rhymed everybody's names, the players, the coaches and even the bus driver [laughs]. That was before smart phones though. If we had smartphones then, that would have been my billion-view video on YouTube [laughs].
When did you become Spose instead of just Ryan Peters, the normal high school kid?
I was pretty much Spose at that point, I think that started during my freshman year of high school. To some chicks I was my normal name, but to most dudes I was known as Spose. When I started rapping with those seniors, my friend Matt decided he was Sticky 1 and I was Spose and that was it [laughs]. But it wasn't until my senior year of high school/freshman year of college where I started to work on my first actual album, Preposterously Dank, as Spose in 2007.
Going into college, did you expect to be a rapper?
Going into college, I was already a rapper in my mind [laughs]. At that point, I don't think there's anyone more blindly confident than an 18-year-old-male in America [laughs]. I was so self-assured at that point, and maybe even a better rapper at that point because it was all I did. And now that it's a business, I spend more time doing the business shit than anything else. I went to college because I thought being a rapper was unrealistic. And, if it was going to happen, it was going to happen anyways. I had already been rapping for years at that point, and I think I was pretty good at that point. I went to University of New Hampshire as an English major because I wanted to get into journalism and then I transferred to Suffolk University in Boston. I never got my degree because two classes left to go, I got a record deal and I withdrew.
Is there any chance you're going to finish up your degree?
Oh, I would say there's a 99 percent chance, for sure. I definitely want to. The only thing stopping me would be death or a plague.
When you got offered a record deal, what was the first thing that went through your mind?
When they first called me, I thought it was fake. I thought it was a bill collector calling or something. I had skipped out on paying rent. And I thought they were trying to catch me [laughs]. At that point, I got the record deal with Universal and they were offering me a shitload of money, they just wanted this song and they wanted to fly me out to New York City and I got a lawyer. It happened really fast. Universal was pushing really hard to get this deal done, like they called me up on a Thursday and they wanted it done by like, Monday. I had made three albums in high school with my joke rap group, but this was realistically only my twelfth song. So, It was very early in my career that it happened. I was unprepared, you know? So, I jumped in the water, but I have some shark scars to prove it.
So, you originally signed a record deal with Universal, what label is Frothy Four Records?
Frothy Four Records was when you, like, fake put a record label on your first album. So, I independently put out my first album under Frothy Four Records. It wasn't until after I signed a deal with Universal that I created my label, Preposterously Dank, LCC like my first album, or P. Dank.
What album or song do you credit for the takeoff for your career?
In 2009, I put out a mixtape called "We Smoked it All" with my friend Cam from high school. One of the songs on We Smoked It All was called "I'm Awesome" and then that shit just skyrocketed. It had a mind of its own, man. What's crazy is that thing -- that thing that made me all that money and let me perform all over the country -- that shit just came out of my brain. It's crazy that you can create something like that straight from your brain. It's cool that there's that option in life.
Q: What are some of the favorite places your career has taken you?
Spose: It's really cool that music allowed me to visit all these cities in America and Canada that I had always wanted to visit. I mean, obviously it took me to L.A. and New York, but once you go to those cities and you're somewhat important, those places kind of unlock for you, it's incredible. All of sudden a you're not looking up at the buildings in New York City and wondering what's going on the top floor of that building... you're there. But, the one place that really stands out to me is Ann Arbor, Michigan and I don't really know why. I just kind of found my moment of serenity there on tour. We had just found out that our album had gone gold and the Celtics were in the Finals and it was Game 7 against the Lakers. I just love America man, the geography of it, the culture, the people. It's amazing.
Q: Today, why aren't you still with Universal?
Spose: Well, I got dropped from Universal after I made an entire album for them. I would have loved to have stayed with them because that album was the shit. Frankly, I think I would have been set for life with that. People say they've never seen a label spend all the money and the time and the resources to make an album and then never release it, even just online at no cost and make money off of it. It pisses me off. To be honest, a lot of those tracks are on the Yard Sale [laughs]. Fortunately, a lot of those tracks I was able to leak out and essentially never get caught [laughs]. I made those songs for them and I put out the ones that I wrote 100 percent myself. When you're on a major label, the gun's to your head. You need to perform. This is why they brought you in, the spotlight is on. I really thought that I brought my A-game.
Q: Now you have an album that drops on June 10, how long has it been in the works?
Spose: I started working on this album when I was working on my last album, The Audacity, last year. While I was working on that, I started this one almost as a release or a vacation from The Audacity because it was a lot of work. I wrote the music, I played a lot of the instruments and sometimes I'd just want to rap and write some rhymes for old times sake. So, I knew after The Audacity I wanted my next move to be a straight-up rap album.
Q: The album is called the Peter Sparker Mixtape. Who exactly is Peter Sparker?
Spose: If had to put it in a sentence? Peter Sparker is the rhyme-slinging defender of the middle class and doesn't care about making radio songs. He's a lot of rapping. Most of the album is just straight Hip-Hop. That's kind of why it's called the Peter Sparker Mixtape, which is just me rapping as an alias. There's some forward thinking music and I definitely step towards a lot the trends and flows that people do now without compromising what I've always done.
Q: Why is this album special?
Spose: This album is almost like a reaction to The Audacity. It was sort of deep and dark album. I had lost a record deal, I got into some personal troubles and I got into financial troubles. So that album came from a dark place I was in. So, I decided that I really needed to make a fun album, or a party album. So, I really set out to make a party album to celebrate working class people. When young 19-year-olds or in people in there 20's get out of work and go to a party, what are they bumping too? It's all about awesome cars and shit that they'll never possess. So, I wanted to make music that people can vibe out to, but it's about your life and not the unattainable things that Rick Ross has.
Q: Is there a track on the album that is your favorite?
Spose: Yea, It's called 03 Altima, it's my jam. It's about my first car, that I still have to this day, a 2003 Nissan Altima. It's a shitty car at this point -- it's got almost 200,000 miles on it -- but when you just got paid and you're done work for the week, you feel like you're the fucking man in that car! That's the kind of anthem I wanted to portray in that song and the album in general. You can celebrate even if you're not affluent and living lives that only come true in your wildest dreams.
Q: Peter Sparker is free to download for all your fans. The press release says it's a gift to your fans. Why is that?
Spose: I don't have the most fans, but the fans I have are hardcore. If you do the math on that Kickstarter thing that raised, like, 28,000 dollars, the average pledge was almost 40 dollars per person. So it's not like they threw me a dollar. People actually really cared and really supported me. So, the album is a thank you to those fans for sticking with me. But, the other thing though is that I don't want 10 dollars to separate me from a potential fan. If somebody doesn't know me or they listened once and decided they don't like me, I want them to have free opportunity to hear me or to reassess me. I make most of my money off of iTunes, so for me to give something away for free is a big risk to my finances, but they all deserve it. It was dope that my fans did that.
Q: What's next for Spose?
Spose: Until August I'm pretty much just chilling in New England. But I'll be performing at a couple of hippie festivals this summer. So, wherever all the hairy armpits are, I'll be playing at those [laughs]. I'm playing actually a pretty huge show in my home state at this venue the State Theatre that I grew up going to, so that'll be big for me as the first time I've ever played there. Then, in August, we're heading out to the Midwest and playing to stuff from the Yard Sale. It's gonna be pretty dope.
Follow Jake Fischer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JakeLFischer