Terrence Spectacle EP Teases A New Era in Dallas’ Hip-Hop Community

©Karlo X Ramos

With talent as big as his hair, Terrence Spectacle is ready to put his mark on the Dallas music scene. Spectacle started as a spoken word poet, and has transformed that ability into creating catchy hooks that will get stuck in your head for days. Laced with alternative vibes and poetic lyrics, Spectacle’s latest EP One Summer Night brings a curated sound that has been missing in the local hip-hop community. Leading up to the highly anticipated EP release party hosted by Cinderblock, we sat down with the hip-hop lyricist to unpack his story and sophomore EP set to release on Friday, March 31st.

At what point did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in music and how did that start?

I moved to Dallas in 2009 as a freshman in highschool. Around 2010, a friend of a friend happened to be in contact with an intern from SwizzBeatz, named Zach, and he asked, “Hey man, do you still do spoken word poetry?” And I’m like, Yeah, it’s kinda my thing, I’ve been doing it since I was 5 years old, why? And he said, “I know this girl that wants to pitch artists to SwizzBeatz.” And I was like, Alright cool, what do we have to do. And that spiraled into so much more. That’s how it got started. Someone suggested that I do music.

How would you describe your music style since it’s very different than what other people are doing in the Dallas hip-hop community?

To quote Kendrick Lamar off his sophomore project Section 80, “I am not the next socially aware conscious rapper, I’m a human being over dope-ass instrumentation.” But seeing as how I come from a more poetic background, when that does translate to the contemporary state of hip-hop currently, people say this is different, this is not how people approach music. But to me, it doesn’t feel any different than when I was writing poems, except now I have instrumentation.

As far as categorizing it sonically, I’m an alternative hip-hop artist; I play around with R&B, electronic, hip-hop. We call that PBR&B. They coined that term starting with Usher. He was the first PBR&B artist — more socially aware, but also very raunchy, if you will. There’s no sugar coating it. This is the reality of the situation. Artists like Jhené Aiko, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Partynextdoor…there’s just a plethora. I’m really good at being on the fence — people have a hard time pegging me.

©Karlo X Ramos

We really appreciate where you are coming from because recently in hip-hop it seems that lyrics have been pushed under the rug…

To quote Drake from “Pound Cake,” “Only real music is gonna last. All that other bullshit is here today and gone tomorrow.” So there’s two kinds of people. People that like beats and people that like lyrics. I just haven’t come across the third kind. Most people aren’t sold until they hear me.

Who are some of artists who have influenced your style musically?

Oh god, there’s only two. Well there’s two tied at the top. It’s Michael Jackson and Prince. But as a millennial there will never be a day where I get as close to either one in my artistry. But I’ve been influenced by a lot of hip-hop — Kanye, Andre 3000, Drake. I really rock with Childish...Chance...Big Homie Kyle.

I could seriously make a chronology of the music that has shaped the genre that I”m a part of and still pushing ever forward. Starting with the The Love Below, which I feel like created 808 and Heartbreaks. And then made So Far Gone, Drake’s first project. And that spiraled into this very eclectic mix of, being able to sing doesn’t make you a rapper, but being able to sing as a rapper makes you so much more. They somehow transcend, and go a distance that others can’t go.

Tell us about “Lone Dirt Road” and the meaning or story behind that song?

Oh boy, “Lone Dirt Road”...my baby. (laughs). I started working with Ish D, my producer, in the summer of 2016, and the very first session we had, we made “Lone Dirt Road”. It was me and 3 members of a local band, Blu H3ron; they’re jazz-fusion musicians. Those are just my guys!

I went through a very singer-songwriter process with this album. I would write songs — I’d get in the shower, a song would pop in my head, and I’d jump out of the shower to write it down. I feel like my best songs come from getting out of the shower (laughs).

As for the content of the song, it’s actually a breakup song. It’s a song about heartbreak. But not so much so in a traditional sense. More of an anthem. It’s kind of like, as fate would have it, I went through a lot of bad stuff that I couldn’t see coming and it all had to do with relationships. And for some reason none of it deterred me from stopping, it actually just propelled me further. I wasn’t distraught over music because of it. I made music before any of this, and none of these negative things could stop me from going on. So that’s where I get the, “go imma go til I can’t no more…go imma go til I can’t no more.” So yeah, it’s a total heartbreak album.

Can you describe your writing process? What comes first the poetry or the sound?

I work backwards believe it or not. I used to write free verse when I was a poet, and didn’t need instrumentation. You could say it took me a while to find my process. I would just scour the internet for beats and would end up writing to songs that weren’t even made for me. And the last part of my artist development was songwriting; being able to write music without any sort of instrumentation. Because I couldn’t peg what sounds would back the words, if I had to place fresh words with old sounds I would had to conform to certain to types of production. So lyrics come first now, but they used to not.

I typically start with a chorus that pops in my head and I will just chant that for the remainder of my shower, holistically thinking. Sometimes it could be a melody or I’ll just say something and add a melody to the line. But when I go into the studio, the songs really come into full spectrum. You have no idea what writer’s block it took to get me that point.

Your first EP NuDallas was in 2014, how do you feel you have grown musically since then?

I’m dark. I am dark as fuck (laughs). You can thank Ish for that. They used to say, “Yo, why is that kid so happy? What is every song produced in a major key? We want minor keys!” It was dark before, but still felt happy-go-lucky. But there’s much more grave tones...but they’re very smooth. You wouldn’t really notice, though.

What can you tell us about the rest of the One Summer Night EP and what listeners can expect?

It’s one of the most alternative hip-hop projects that I’ve ever heard. It’s different in a lot of ways; both contemporary in hip-hop and a sound just not made yet. I sent an early copy to a local artist, Blue, The Misfit, who’s kind of been a really cool mentor / role model of sorts for me. He said, “This puts you in a place that no one else in the city is. I’ll be honest with you this doesn’t sound like anything that’s ever been made here or is here.” And I was like, Thanks Dad! I like to call him dad (laughs).

There’s a lot of alternative vibes, a lot of which comes from the way the guitar is played. There’s bounce. The title track, “One Summer Night”, has a bounce to it, which transitions into the energizer bunny “Lone Dirt Road.” And then “Lone Dirt Road” transitions into what is probably considered the darkest and most R&B-style song on the record, “Blinded”, which is also the second single. Very grave, but so smooth.

Don't miss Terrence Spectacle's EP release show on Friday March 31 at Cinderblock.  Tickets can be purchased here.