Rochester, New York, a.k.a “Flour City”
In this episode of Art of Bars, we are taking you back (after the Eto episode) to Rochester New York, to tell to you about an MC that hasn’t yet reached the level of visibility he deserves despite the fact that he has been representing Hip Hop culture to the fullest for awhile now. For more than 10 years he has been carrying the torch for this movement, both as a beatmaker and as a rapper.
We are talking about 38 Spesh, born in 1984 and raised in Rochester, also known as “Flour City” because of the mills that once were at the centre of the local economy, but also because of another product that was very popular on the streets, which is similar to flour in aspect but much more dangerous.
Rochester is a small city of a few hundred thousand inhabitants, closer to Toronto and Canada than it is to New York city although it is in the same state as the Big Apple. it is in the region of the great lakes, not far from Buffalo and Syracuse with which it shares a cold climate and high crime rates with its dark, impoverished and run down streets. This situation is ascribable to the economic depression of the last few years, the presence of organized crime families and the proximity to the Canadian border.
38 Spesh, whose name was inspired by one of the most trustworthy brands of revolver, soon became caught up between the streets and the legal system. He had to serve two years in jail for illegal possession of a firearm as well as other offenses.
38 Spesh, Student of The Game
38 Spesh came into contact with Hip Hop music at an early age as his father was a DJ. As a kid he rapped and played keyboards. When he was 16 he met and befriended one of the most important figures of Rochester and Upstate New York’s Hip Hop scene, that is to say DJ Green Lantern.
DJ Green Lantern would become famous in the early 2000’s together with his crew Team Invasion for a series of legendary mixtapes which featured remixes and tracks by all major artists from New York and the East Coast. 38 Spesh was initially focused on beatmaking but subsequently featured on Green Lantern’s tapes and made his debut as a rapper around 2004-2005.
However, it was only after his stint in jail that he decided to concentrate on his music career in order to stay out of trouble.
38 Spesh was introduced to the game, releasing of his first mixtapes between 2008 and 2012, by his good friend DJ Green Lantern and co-signed by many Hip Hop legends such as DJ Premier, Pete Rock and The Lox, with whom he would collaborate many times. Despite his dirty record and turbulent past in the streets he always was a real Hip Hop lover. All the legendary artists that he would meet during his career would recognize his authentic spirit and respect his work.
Already by 2010 the Rochester MC had established various contacts with artists in the Big Apple such as French Montana and Uncle Murda. In 2014 he completed an album with Kool G Rap titled “Son Of G Rap” but it would only see the light in 2018. During the last few years 38 Spesh has understood that the time is right and has thus returned to take his rightful place in history. Hip Hop music based on bars and deep content is back in fashion after a “dark age” period.
38 Spesh & Benny The Butcher and the Trust Gang.
In time 38 Spesh established strong ties with New York, but he also established longer lasting ties with the Buffalo scene. That is the city where, around 2010, 38 Spesh met B.E.N.N.Y, one of the hottest local rappers. This was way before his cousin Westside Gunn transformed the rap game with Griselda Records.
38 Spesh and Benny The Butcher have a lot in common: raw talent and a passion for street rap. They both really experienced the street life and have scars to prove it, in other words, they both share that hustler’s mentality and drive to make it big in the game.
Benny was immediately affiliated to the Trust Gang movement started by 38 Spesh, together they dropped many projects among which “Cocaine Cowboys” 1 & 2 or the “Trust Tape” series which has reached volume 3. On these releases, as well as the talented rapper from Buffalo, we also heard other members of the Trust family like Klass Murda or Che Noir.
38 Spesh’s renewed hunger.
In 2018, following the wave of success achieved by Griselda Records, 38 Spesh found new inspiration thanks to the revamp of hardcore street rap that came out of the Upstate New York area. In two years he released a large quantity of projects, for example “Stapped And Shot” (2018), which was another classic collaboration with Benny The Butcher, and “Son Of G Rap” with Kool G Rap, proving his ability both as an MC and a beatmaker.
In 2019 he began working on various compilation albums with members of his own movement and some of the baddest underground MC’s such as Planet Asia, El Camino, Eto, Rome Streetz and Flee Lord. In addition he would release exceptional solo work like “5 Shots” Ep and “38 Strategies Of Raw”, (a sequel to “38 Laws of Powder” from 2016) e “A Bullet For Every Heathen” which was entirely produced by Big Ghost Ltd.
I’m tryna figure where the team went
We all took risks, broke bread, had a real agreement
When you was locked, I sent you pink slips when you need it
Said I’d be there soon as your feet feel the cement
But niggas ain’t as real as me here
If I ain’t help you, think of the position you still would be in
You fell victim to your inner demon
It’s inconvenient when somebody say they with ya
But don’t really mean it
You went behind my back pillow-speakin’
Hear the secrets get to spillin’ to these bitches
When you feel a grievance
I never thought that we would end up beefin’
I shoulda seen it, but couldn’t
Still tryna find the missin’ pieces
38 Spesh “Venting” – Strategies of Raw 2019
Thanks to his natural leadership skills, his undeniable experience and his ability to create solid ties both with artists of the new underground wave as well as Hip Hop veterans, 38 Spesh has managed to give his career a boost and he is now ready to pick the fruits of his labour.