Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Spade Tapes

     I don't remember quite how it began, I know I was in Peru recording and listening to a-lot of Pusha at the time I wrote the song  "spit shine." I remember thinking that I needed a term for all the women in my music who had been influential over my life, that I couldn't call them by their full names, and that I couldn't lump them all up to be my x-girlfriend, neither one of those things seemed fair to the people who deserved so much fairness and respect, so much I had to give in song what I had failed to give in action.  They needed to be a collective symbol for something that made the whole world possible and heartbreaking to live in at the same time. To contain the idea of our story in eleven tracks I needed to simplify it. I wanted the Spade-Tapes to be about love over time, to be a broad story about the last few loves and hard times in my life told in the very specific situational narrative of defining moments we had shared. I decided on the image of the spade. I can come up with a hundred reasons now why that seemed like the perfect image to use, but then I think it just seemed obvious for no reason at all.
       It wasn't until 5 months later that I ended up in Austin. I went to try to make some money working the SXSW music festival and I guess I just didn't have anything better to do after so I stayed. At least that's how it seems, or maybe I thought I was being noble for being somewhere that made me feel so lonely. Either way, a small campaign to drink myself to never-land was embarked upon with no uncertain ferocity, and as it usually does it lead me down into some interesting territory where people and reasons to live resided, and we became intertwined in ways that I think we can never undue.
        I met Ben Bazzrea who produced "the Spade Tapes" off the internet, I literally had an alert set to "Austin Hip-Hop" so that if anybody was saying or doing shit I would know about it, kinda dorky, but fuck it, it worked. I met Maya in Texas that same day me and Ben shared our first files, and 2 weeks later we were at her dads house in Mexico where I wrote most of "darkness" and "rainz" and "roll." some of it about her, some of it not. My favorite line of the whole record is with a conversation of ours in mind after I split town to visit Portland for the 4th of July and just never came back,

"I know they're coming for you and you'll come back someday. I hope you beat em good, call if you pass LA. I could meet you there and I could bring your things, you're gonna need your knife and baby you're gonna need your wings."

       At around that same time me and Chris Kennedy (future sunz)  a producer I had met from LA had been sending back and forth files with Luck-One on 2 tracks, and I wanted him to hear what me and Ben were working on, I think he immediately saw the potential but also that it needed some more work.   I feel like everything changed when Ben started bringing Rebecca Tafline into the studio to sing on some tracks, the album no longer just had a symbol for what I was rapping about it had a beautiful strong female voice to go with it. I immediately wanted her on every track and she came thru for me in the most amazing fashion.
       After me and Maya got back from Mexico something else changed in me and I couldn't bare to be in Austin even though I had finally found somebody that I could share some life with. When I got back to Portland I started going back to work on the record and over the next couple months I thought I finished writing it, most of it battling death on Chads couch where I was staying at the time or in the stairwell of the alley next door.
       I went in to record it where I had recorded "The Orgasm Of A Ghost" and "Bury Me Standing" but the process was dull and frustrating and difficult to stomach, so many hard times and emotional stories put into a room that seemed to have no energy, I felt like I had outgrown Mark as an engineer. I didnt need a wizard I needed a believer. I sent it to Chris and he told me he would redo the whole thing and against everything impatient about my soul I said OK. A few months later I found myself out in LA where we spent two weeks reworking it and finishing  it, staring out from his rooftop in Downtown LA I couldn't have felt more satisfied with where I was or how surreal life felt, Chris had saved me from myself. Ben had put together the drawing board, and me and Rebecca had sung our hearts out. What more could I want, I didn't know yet.
      I don't really know why I felt the need to write this, I just did. I brought my laptop and some whiskey to a dark corner of Club 21 just to do it, just to finish this chapter and move on. I hope maybe you get some sense of the time that I have been thru to create this last record,  that maybe you can see that the overdoses, gunshots, suicides, and plane crashes are real, that the kidnappings were more than metaphorical. That this isn't just my music, that this is our story.
      So salude, here is to those memories on The Spade Tapes, and making new ones without the worry of recording over them, they have been set. Rest lovely.
       I really feel like the "roll" and "lonely planets" videos incapsulate some of those feelings I was going thru very well, while I think the video for "rainz" will get misinterpreted, it wasn't supposed to be about being a ladies man and I am not trying to come off like a dick or make people uncomfortable. It was supposed to be about when you have something overwhelm you and put in your face suffocating you and taking all your attention when all you want is something more meaningful that's right behind it, but you've become too weak to grasp it, not so weak though that you cant be responsible for giving into your weaknesses.
       Anyways, none of this would have been possible without Ben, Chris, and Rebecca or the love, presence, and absence of Maya,  Erin, and Amanda.

THE SPADE TAPES (download/listen)

Roll Video

Lonely Planets Video Link-
Lonely Planets Video 

Rainz Video Link-
Rainz Video

Friday, December 28, 2012

Proverbial bullshit

A man can learn a lot, in the pond staring down the drain as the water pours from above. After he has learned much from this he can begin to learn by looking up at where the water comes from and only after he has learned much by this, he looks at the space between. Where the water hits he inspects the flesh as though it were a flower. Upon reflection he finds himself in nature, upon action he finds himself to be a force of nature. He then becomes so strong that he may change the course of nature. This is not evil, the will can never be more then it is possible to overcome. By all that he does man sets the course for him to be greater then his greatest transgression, but he must do this with his own bullshit smeared all over his face. He must know that he creates what he finds and then becomes so frightened by his ability that he insists that it created him. Man no longer wants to be a man, let that man go and you may find freedom. Man.

-Rafael V.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crashing Always

Every morning for 13 days I have known, I see it coming, I see the last time I saw it coming, I see the last time I saw it happen to someone else. I make choices with this sight in mind, I don't let a girl ride on the back, I scramble clumsily for a better helmet, I attempt to extend my vision. My actions yesterday in demise of all my foresight only changed slightly, slight is all that a chance has ever needed to shift into a reality. As I approached the green light, for some reason I let off the gas a little, my motorcycle seemed to be floating weightless then on a small silent cloud, and in that moment I have to wonder if it was to give him time to hit me.
       He told me afterwards that his brakes had gone completely out. I seemed to ride the pores of his cheeks and the hazy red of his whites as he smashed me with his front bumper down Madison Ave. In those moments I had time to think, my thoughts stretched out before me like a roadmap of questions, only my fate seemed certain. I would be ok, perfectly fine, but once again I was messing with the fabric of the universe clumsily. Knowing only that it would be dangerous, the only element I craved in my adventure. The only prerequisite for an adventure at all. 
         How can one tell the difference between a precognitive thought and a thought that for some reason has become so strong it subconsciously effects ones behavior as to manifest itself in reality?
I don't know the difference between my intuition, premonitions, or subconscious behavior anymore. I cant quite tell what it is I am trying to tell myself. I appear only to be on the brink of coming over a cliff to discover I am far away, and even then each step further is only another step closer to the only truth that is big enough to hide. The truth that is so big we cannot see it as a whole, we see its molecules and assume they are planets, we see its thoughts and assume they are clouds, we see ourselves and assume that we are humans. Never willing to look we must always interpret the world this way. There is no such thing as a motorcycle accident. For me to think I was in one is a falsification of all the evidence my spirit knows to be otherwise, and that my dear makes me a bad detective. 
            I can see the expressions on my friends faces in the near future, each one different and particular to them, I see it every night. I must now go back and do my homework, so that I do not just crash down the side of the road with my thoughts laid out before me like questions when the event takes place. I wish we had just a few more answers, fortunately we are blessed that there are clues everywhere. 
           I realize now that I crash always, that I always crash in all my interactions. Sometimes I might be like a wave and sometimes like a wreck, sometimes like a wind that whips and sometimes like the way a snail may run into a mud puddle. Maybe this is the nature of my person so far. Thank you for still letting me crash into you my love, how ever sparse, how ever often.

Rafael V. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Fear

Sitting under the cold lamplight I can hear it whispering, a droning building howl, and though I know I will never understand the words, I will always know what they mean. They are a curse. The fear wraps around us, engulfing us with wind and flames, a storm we can feel long before we can see it. A headache running thru every bone, mauling as it moves. Barking at us rabid, letting us know that someday when we are almost happy it will tear apart everything that we love and make us watch. A black fog rolling over us, capturing all we hold dear, with a monstrous crackling momentum, spitting and groping. We cannot outrun it, for if we go any faster we will collapse, our hearts exploding in a small dull thud, our life trickling out into the cold, the vastness. We cannot stop, for it will strangle us, choking and crushing, with every breath we will breathe in its poisonous hand, fingers in thru the nose and knuckles out thru the mouth. We can only move towards it, with it, no matter the pace or direction. The fear loathes us and we deserve it. We know we have done wrong and that we can never go back. The fear baits us, laying traps in all we desire. The fear knows us, using us against ourselves. The fear is coming, almost here now, I can hear it whispering beneath the cold cold lamplight. The haunting is here. The fear has come again, each time getting closer to what it wants, each time leaving less of us behind. Taking with it our hearts and hard work, leaving only stranded flesh and eyes to see the pieces. Never not present. We can go no further without it, we can live no longer with it. We have become it. Becoming it, we begin to give it. A tired venomous gift. A cancer. I am you fear. We are finally, eternally together. Always. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Hand printed on high quality American Apparel shirts, by me! With FREE shipping.
I am in Austin recording a new record 'The Spade Tapes' with Ben Bazzrea. It is a project I am really happy with, taking my back towards my roots. This shirt is only available till July, then I will do a different official long run album T.  If you get a shirt it helps me
be able to continue to record and do what it is I love for a living. Suerte Campaneros.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tea Time

I’m left to open up another blank document. I’ve scribbled starts to three-hundred stories, a hundred songs, outlines for a million inventions, maps for the thousand different directions I’m trying to take my life. Written on my legs in the holes of my jeans are notes to remind myself that I am hip-hop. Single words scratched onto napkins with the shitty pens of waitresses rub like gravel in the bottom of my pockets. Words catering to things the eyes have seen but know they will soon forget are tattooed in obscure places on my arms, between all the fluff and imagery.  Even here we can find names of the friends I’ve known. As if I could forget, and yet still I can’t remember, anything.

Not even to be still. 

Who were these three cowboys, us three? High on mushrooms from the airport and soft-white from the cell phone waiting lot, now at the strip-club peaking under the light blueberry lap-dance of another failed pharaoh. Making it rain lottery tickets, keeping the wind north. Who was this man with his head down working 16-hour days for SXSW, getting drunk off Antartica dreams and whiskey neats while scolding international rap acts for smoking to many cigarettes. Where did all the money go. I can ride this tandem bicycle all by myself, from the backseat. Preference settings, set to go. Reality is I’m slowing down.

Glassblowing, flame working, staring into the eyes of dogs.
Bartending, waiting, writing to live but not survive.
Texas, maintaining, lone star, record outlines.
Porch life, sunshine, swimming.
BBQ from picnic table to picnic table like high-fives.
At The Drive In, love life, dabs, surprises.
Shirt off, bus stops, uncle.
New house, bike, poker tables, mine.
Court house, piss, Mercury  52'
Boat money, tattoos, that Huck Finn boat money tattoo.