It was at the age of 9, after hearing Special Ed’s classic “I Got It Made”, that Jeff Spec (named “Chris” by his parents) knew that hip hop music would always be a part of his life. “It was just so inspiring” says Jeff; “he wasn’t that much older than I was, and he was doing his thing - and people were listening to him”. Shortly after, while still in elementary school, Jeff found himself in the school hallways freestyling with close friends, and performing at any talent show that he could get into.
Now, well over a decade later, the MC/Producer/Sneaker Enthusiast has released more than 15 albums and mixtapes, and a variety of singles, and performed in a wide variety of markets in Canada, the United States, and Japan. He and his crew, City Planners (including Moka Only, Ishkan, Sichuan, and Sweet G), have gained a high degree of notoriety for their D-I-Y, grassroots hip hop mentality, and are synonymous with the Vancouver independent music scene.
Jeff’s albums have shown a widespread appeal, and he has developed fan bases around North America and worldwide. His previous releases have been distributed in Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and the internet and iTunes have brought him listeners from even further abroad.
In 2002, Jeff signed his first international record contract, with the independent label Day By Day Entertainment (home to underground legend MF Grimm), for his album “Dark City”. The album enjoyed a degree of critical acclaim and introduced Jeff to many more listeners than he had ever previously reached. Later that year, Jeff’s music caught some ears at Universal Urban, and in early 2003, his single “Never Can Say Goodbye” was released by the major label on a radio-only 12” single.
For the next few years, while not releasing any LP’s, Jeff kept his name out with 2 volumes of a mixtape entitled “The Last Shall Be First”, which sold a few hundred copies during his stint in Toronto in 2005. In the meantime, he remained busy with the recording of his very personal album “Rhythm and Blues”, and a residency as a host at a local hip hop night. Upon its 2006 release, “Rhythm and Blues” was warmly received to Top 10 positioning on !earshot and Chart Attack’s hip hop charts. His subsequent mixtape “Motion Picture” (2007) only solidified his position among Canada’s finest MC’s (and producers), and his following project, “…a little night music” (Camobear, 2008) was his best and most recent work to date. His new album, Sneakerboxxx, explores uncharted territory for the accomplished MC and producer...
"Sneakerboxxx" is the latest offering from Jeff Spec, one of Vancouver, BC's most prolific hip hop artists. The album is experimental in the context of modern hip hop, incorporating mainly live instrumentation, alongside soulful vocal arrangements and a combination of live drumming and programming. Jeff's rhymes range from candid storytelling to social commentary; from creative wordplay to conversational poetry. The 11 tracks promise to offer something for everyone - guest appearances include Canadian music luminary Moka Only, and Los Angeles up-and-comer Shane Eli, as well as talented vocalists NaRai, Omar Khan, and Daniel Klenner (formerly of Hey! Ocean).
While Jeff has worked with various labels in the past, including New-York based Day By Day Entertainment (MF Grimm, MF Doom, Count Bass D), and even released a single on Universal Urban, "Sneakerboxxx" is released under his own imprint, Pushin' Records. Spec is a staple on the live music scene in Vancouver and abroad, and has developed an international fanbase reaching around the globe. His previous albums "Rhythm and Blues" and "…a little night music" charted in the Chart attack and !earshot top 10 for hip hop, nationwide. He will embark on a national tour in the fall of 2010, with his live band and NaRai (the soul vocalist to watch as of now), and will the U.S. during the winter months.
The video for "On My Feet", Jeff's infectious sneaker-loving anthem, can currently be seen on upwards of 50 blogs online, and is just gaining steam amongst sneaker enthusiasts and hip-hop heads alike. Later in the year, videos for "Stop" (featuring NaRai), "Love Like That" (featuring Moka Only and NaRai), "Truck Sh*t", and "Turn It UP!" will follow.
The lane established by Jeff Spec is one outside of the boundaries of traditional hip hop, due in part to the contribution of members of Vancouver's Star Captains, a 6-piece Soul/Jazz outfit known for their high-energy performances and incredible soloing abilities.
"this is a great album. I’ve had it for a few days now and I’m still enjoying it. It’s fun music, it’s serious music, it’s forward thinking music, it’s boom-bap music, and much more." - Better Blends, 'Sound Advisor Review'
"I listened. And I'm glad because this album is nice." - OC Supreme, The Mad Bloggers
In addition to headlining his own club shows and tours, Jeff has shared stages with:
Raekwon (tour, 3 dates, 2010)
Warren G (2010)
Talib Kweli (2009)
Tanya Morgan (2009)
Aceyalone (tour, 8 dates, 2008)
Redman and Method Man (2008)
Digable Planets (2008)
Kool Keith (2006, 2004, 2001)
Ice T (2006)
Non Phixion (2005)
Souls Of Mischief (2005)
The Beatnuts (Tour, 4 dates, 2005)
Jeru The Damaja (2005)
Digital Underground (2004)
Funkdoobiest (tour, 4 dates, 2003)
Living Legends (tour, 4 dates, 2003)
The Luniz (2002)
Mystic Journeymen (2002)
De La Soul (2001)
Mixmaster Mike (2001)
Abstract Rude (2001)
Kardinall Offishall (2001)
Rahzel The Godfather Of Noise (2000)
Tha Alkaholiks (1999)
The Pharcyde (1998)
...and too many more to name.