I've known Spencer Stevens going on four years now, which in itself is a pretty wild statement for me. In that time, a lot has happened (naturally) not only for Spencer, but for YK as a whole. To better understand the present, and what's to come, I'll enlighten you on the past first. Spencer and I met through Yared Kiflai, another member of YK. Meeting these two was a pivotal stage of YK's development, it was the moment when we realized we could not only curate other people's material - but that we all could bring something to the table as well. Fresh out of high school, Spencer used to roll with Yared, Sam and I to multiple studio sessions for Yared, and was always in the mix of the creative process.
The four of us would ride around in the car following those sessions - ecstatic about the record that was just laid down, playing it on full blast in my Ford Explorer. Back then, Spencer used to make beats on Garageband, and would play them for me in his room, which he would convert into a home studio a few years later. These early instrumentals contained some of the basis of Spencer's current, jazz influenced bass-heavy sound, and although perhaps he never knew, I was taken aback by his work ethic and progression. Some of those records went on to become collaborations - unreleased records with Yared, or a track with CaliMade's Clyde Shankle, predating the Shankle movement and his name change. Na(T)ive Son's The Harvest EP was recorded over some of Spencer's two year old instrumentals, which brings me to this. Being around Spencer has taught me many things, more importantly within the current context is that each instrumental has a life of it's own. For instance, one night I brought my brother, who plays the bass guitar, to lay down some live bass for Spencer - and from it was birthed an infectious tune that a year later would become "TRAVEL" from DUCKWRTH's TAXFREE V.1 (on which he also produced "TIME").
At the top of the year, Spencer dropped off his debut project EARS, which gave listeners a taste of the free-form experimental brand beats that he manifests. Since the release of EARS, Spence has been seemingly quiet - however, behind the scenes it became increasingly ridiculous the amount of new instrumentals he'd have every time we met up. On the "5 beats a day for 3 summers" plan, he churned an ever shifting soundscape of heat for months, quietly. And ironically, that's the best way I can describe the way he operates, is quiet. Spencer lets the music speak for him, and continues to develop with every fresh batch of songs.
Stemming from his jazz band roots and musical influences, Spencer's beats don't have the "industry sound" and aren't reminiscent of a style that's currently popular. ASCENSION is but Spencer's sophomore release, and takes a more ethereal form than his debut release EARS in it's sound. Throughout the body of work, you'll notice an ambient vibe with clever manipulation of bass-lines interwoven throughout intricate layers of instrumentation. This theme carries forth throughout the tape, taking the listener on a musical journey that ascends throughout the nebulas.
Another thing that I've learned, which comes to my final word on Spencer and also brings the story up to date, is the value of patience. Watching some of his year (or few year) old tracks later become part of someone's project, or his creative process while shaping his own projects displays the essence of timing. Everything is calculated and quantified, the value of artistic development is an ideal that's not lost on Spencer (or any other member of YK for that matter) who had been working for years in the shadows prior to his debut.
Enjoy ASCENSION below, another step in the million mile Youthful Kinfolk journey we've embarked upon. For those who see our vision, we appreciate you and hope to continue delivering our best; YK isn't a one man rodeo - Wallah, Sam, Amir, Yared, Shruggs, Spencer and I are just getting started. We hope that you'll accompany us on our journey of self expression - for now ascend with us via the musical gifts of Spencer.