Spek Won’s first proper full-length album is a tale of two halves. While the first part of the record is brimming with jazzy, head-nodding production topped with socially conscious lyricism, the record’s back end is musically spacey and atmospheric, hard wired to lyrically instinctive spontaneity. Spek Won is highly aware of this, having assigned the Michael J. Fox-inspired alter egos Marty McFligh and Fox Howard, respectively, to these two sonically divergent approaches while ensuring overall musical consistency.
Tracks like the ambient “The Yurugu” highlight the complexity and overlapping of the two perspectives, while the organic, addictive immediacy of “E(art)h,” produced by Hiatus Kaiyote affiliate Silent Jay, also blurs the lyrical lines, holding down the opposite end of the sonic spectrum. The former 88 Days of Fortune collective member shows impressive growth on this project from the Preemo Donna mixtape issued back in 2010, which featured him spitting over DJ Premier instrumentals. Hints at his development were shown on his appearances on Slakah the Beatchild’s Soul Movement Vol. 2 project, and that album’s “Miss Communication” appears on Sofa King Amazing. That song was produced by Grammy nominated Toronto producer/MC Lord Quest, who helms three tracks here, while bizZarh, Ian Kamau and rising Toronto R&B singer Shi Wisdom (who contributes timeless Billie Holiday allusions on the ghostly “Black Body”) are impressively incorporated into Spek Won’s varied yet complementary artistic visions.