Catching up with the trailblazing artist about the journey to Deem’s Tape.
Growing up in the 1990’s Deem Spencer took inspiration from the likes of Ludacris, Puff Daddy, Outkast, and Eminem. Since, Deem has grown to find his voice out of the experiences of his personal journey, and now tells his own stories from the perspective of an old soul dealing with the turmoil that accompanies the coming of age in New York City.
“When I first started making music, I was not using my voice a lot of my work was very aggressive. I wanted to be better than Kendrick,” the artist explained. The journey for him has been a process of growing into his authentic self and sharing what is important to him. Through his rap influences, he has been challenged to become a better musician.
Deem started taking music seriously from age fifteen. As a growing teenager, he had to figure himself out first. Going beyond the set boundaries and styles of the people that he admired. Now on the 7th project that Deem has made, it took a good three tapes to find himself. In his words “Deem’s Tape is about me being in a better place in my life and imagining even better. My music has changed my life. There’s a lot of moments on here about where I am and where I come from, but mostly I want people to appreciate my attitude about life and realize there’s beauty in it all”.
Growing up in New York with Jamaican heritage, his culture has played an important part in his identity. Integral to his personal story, the young artist’s relationship with New York City has not always been romantic. New York is an ever-halting machine and trying to survive while dealing with the transition from childhood to adulthood is unforgiving.
His first project Character was put out in 2012 while he was in twelfth grade making it the first mixtape he released. It represented a period where he was still experimenting and trying to be everyone else. He followed this up with his album Anhedonia which was released while he was waiting back to hear from school in Manhattan. After realising he had not gained college admission, he went ahead and got a full-time job at JFK airport. He later quit his job and created the album. By the time he released Sunflower, he had his own voice and started throwing events in New York. He dropped the EP along with a visual for its lead single, ‘Soap’ in 2016, which shot him into the limelight. Deem was featured in several publications in New York even performing at SOB’s, Muchmore’s and Silent Barn. He started buzzing on the internet from the ‘Soap’ video.
Deem Spencer wanted to reintroduce himself with Deem’s Tape after realising what Sunflower did for him, he has been inspired to do better. There is no one incident, but there was a lot of advice coming through that the darker themes were not inviting. So, he wanted to do something more welcoming.
Themes of insecurity, depression, and heartbreak are prevalent in Deem’s raps, but there is also a constant underlying sense of hope: a flickering light propelling Deem’s music forward. The result, his new album Deem’s Tape. The project is a moment of self-reflection, one last sigh of relief and gratitude as he begins to charge toward the future he always envisioned.
Deem’s Tape is an album born out of a deeply reflective process. In this album, Deem examines his internal thoughts and feelings around a conceptual piece he called ‘My Wife and Kids’, where he begins to conceptualise the future, he wants for himself. “I spent the last couple of years working on a concept piece called ‘My Wife and Kids’. I’m still working on it. Intended to be a manifestation of what I want for my life & legacy, [it] required me to vividly imagine the future I want for myself. To do so I had to first reflect on my past and present. I reflected on my home life, my love life, my family, and my childhood. Deem’s Tape came out of this process.”
Asides from his budding music career, he has dreams to write movies and develop a career as a television writer. Mostly, Deem seeks to maintain a relationship with his fans and music supporters where he leads by example rather than imposing himself on them. While he has taken on board several critics and feedbacks on board over the years, his fans have remained a bedrock to him as several of them have reached out sharing their unconditional love for the artist. “When fans reach out, they always mention how they love the music anyway”. He envisions future collaborations with the likes of Willow Smith, Tyler the Creator, and Frank Ocean. “I would also like to tour next year. That’s all I’ve wanted throughout the pandemic.”
Deem continues to grow and solidify in his style as a young rapper blossoming into the best version of himself. Deem’s tape provides the artist with an opportunity to reintroduce himself. He appreciated what previous albums have done for him, offering him the opportunity to capture different experiences over the course of his life. This current album represents a stage in his life currently where he feels grateful. Deem says “I hope Deem’s Tape creates the perfect domino effect and the project that follows is even more special”.
Press play on Deem Spencer’s ‘Deem’s Tape’ below.