The legacy of Spida Lee stems from his hometown of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, UK. Over the course of his esteemed career, Spida has toured the country with legendary Leeds lyricist Skinnyman, collaborated with the likes of Klashnekoff and has released nine official projects since his debut single ‘Verbal Assassin’ dropped in 2007. In 2012, Spida launched a successful clothing venture called Carriacou Jack, in order to promote his music by accompany the sales of his CD’s with fresh clothing designs.
Spida Lee’s 9th project, ‘Rise Of A King’, was released on 2nd October 2016. The album was recorded at the Unit 7 studio, hosting 12 tracks and 14 lyrical features, with production handled by Natural Doc, Brutal Artistry, Hashfinger, Illuzual and Spida himself. The album was mixed and mastered by Blend.
The album introductory, a ‘Michael Tellinger Lecture’, urges the listener to question the rules and routines which humanity is born into, claiming that money was initially introduced as a means of enslavement. Building on this, Spida launches into ‘Can’t Take Money’, laced with lyrics denouncing monetary values and the negative impacts money can have on people’s personalities and lifestyles. The chorus emphasizes that “you can’t take money when you die”, making the point that a life spent chasing money is a life wasted. As the track climaxes, another short skit touches on figureheads such as the Rothschild’s who have control over the world’s biggest banks, and the power that is provided to these people as a consequence of our societies financial turmoil.
Track 3, ‘Represent’, has a nostalgic opener which samples Da Bush Babees single ‘We Run Things’. Spida preaches knowledge by talking on multiple conscious subjects, such as his denunciation of religion, materialism and modern trends. The first lyrical features come through on ‘The Cypher’, a thrilling demonstration of the talent Huddersfield and namely Unit 7 have to offer on the mic. Featuring 11 rappers not including Spida himself, those involved include KD, Billy Starks, Lost Props, The Scriptors, Eskar, Gen, T-Mac, Taper, Jahrel Mission & female emcee Krankit. The rugged beat sends the listener straight into the underground, underlying a thrilling exchange of clinical rhymes emphasizing each lyricist’s unique characteristics.
‘Fuck The Hype’ follows, with fresh vocals from Sara Lasoul on the chorus. On the track Spida takes aim at commercial stations and fake rappers, promoting modesty and humility in the process. Next the album reaches the mid-way ‘Interlude’, in which Spida’s uncle Ken educates the listener on the rise of Egyptian kings.
One of the most conceptually important songs on the album is ‘Where Will I Go’, in which Spida begins by vehemently denouncing the street life, preaching a positive message for youth who feel trapped in the system. Afterwards Spida speaks directly to the ladies, telling them that they must first respect themselves before they are respected by others. He finishes the track by calling on the people to “stop making stupid people famous,” as they are “fucking with kids heads.”
Spida’s daughter Jaydee makes the next feature on ‘So Real’, contributing sweet vocals to the chorus over a relaxing old-school instrumental. On the track Spida tackles close to home issues, such as fake personalities in his community and violence encountered in the streets as well as at the hands of law enforcement, using an example of his cousin who was killed by a police taser gun.
Spida’s liveliness returns for ‘No Competition’ which features reggae vocalist D Bo General who contributes another riveting chorus to the mix. Throughout the track Spida demonstrates his rhyming ability with intelligent disses, aimed at anybody that would dare contest his lyrical might. Sara Lasoul returns on an initially depressing but ultimately uplifting anthem called ‘Keep Ya Head Up’, leading the opener with her soulfully melodic vocals. Spida narrates a sad story about a woman that was abused by her step-father, which led to negative lifestyle and further child abuse to her own children. Sara then sings the chorus soothingly, beckoning the listener to keep their head up through life’s many turmoils. The second chapter of the song speaks about the brother of the woman in the first part of the track, whose life becomes an emotional mess. His mother hung herself, which led his sister to spiral from opiate drug abuse to prostitution. She died from an overdose whilst six months pregnant. The third chapter continues the brothers story, as he turns his life around by enrolling back at college and eventually becoming a social worker in order to educate the youth, so that he can help prevent what happened to his family and also learn from his life’s lessons to look after his own children.
The album finale is ‘Rise Of A King’, where Spida seeks to open the listener’s eyes by preaching black pride and inner-consciousness, spitting straight-up facts as he educates the listener about the world’s suppressed truths, citing examples of black people’s achievements throughout history before the oppression caused by slavery. The song ends with Spida speaking directly to the listener, teaching about the misinterpretation of the N word and also the accomplishments of African kings. He reinforces his perspective that everybody is born a king or queen, but it’s up to them to realise it themselves. There is also a remix of ‘Rise Of A King’ available on the album, which begins as Spida shouts out multiple black men who were murdered by police, before Spida spits his verses more aggressively over an apocalyptic instrumental.
Overall ‘Rise Of A King’ is a consciously outspoken masterpiece. Remaining true to his roots and passion for old-school sounding hip-hop, Spida has created a project which is relevant in 2016, yet wouldn’t be out of place even if it was released 20 years ago. The issues which he speaks on are dilemmas of historical importance, and almost every lyric has a progressive purpose. Another aspect which the album excels at, is that Spida puts on a variety of talents young and old from his area, a motion which shall not only enhance his own renown but will also enhance theirs. ‘Rise Of A King’ is undoubtedly one of the finest hip-hop albums to arise out of Huddersfield, a statement with shall surely remain true for a very, very long time.