Published May 05, 2015On his new album Sofa King Amazing, Toronto MC Spek Won unveils an eclectic, expansive sound that eschews easy pigeonholing. The first half of the record has a jazzy, laid-back bohemian vibe, while the second half favours a more atmospheric, futuristic sound. And then there's the matter of the Back to the Future-inspired character Marty McFligh, one of two alter egos inhabiting the record.
Given this roving approach, it's perhaps not a surprise to find out that the album's latest single, "E(art)h," was produced by Silent Jay, a collaborative affiliate of Grammy-nominated Australian groove collective Hiatus Kaiyote. Not only that, scenes for the "E(art)h" were filmed at the house where members of Hiatus Kaiyote reside in Melbourne, and another Sofa King Amazing video, "Passports and Cameras," was filmed in Tokyo by director Mark Valino.
Yet despite the globetrotting visuals, much of Sofa King Amazing was created at home in Toronto with collaborators and issues close to Spek Won's heart. He drew heavily on his Ghanaian heritage for the record, starting off the album with the song "Africa Forever."
"I came up listening to highlife and I got to watch it develop into hiplife," Spek Won tells Exclaim! "There's a scene in the city of Toronto, and in other cities around the world. There are small pockets of it. I grew up in the Ghanaian community on the south side of Rexdale. There is so much talent within that community that doesn't get the proper recognition. You know I came from that and was able to do something with it. So I feel like it's only right that I wave that flag in everything that I do to some extent."
In addition to working with his partner, rising Toronto R&B singer Shi Wisdom (who appears on three tracks, including the sobering "Black Body"), Spek Won also connects with Slakah the Beatchild, Ian Kamau and Toronto producer/MC LordQuest, who notched a Grammy nomination for his recent work on Schoolboy Q's Oxymoron project.
"We don't have a lot of music [together], but he's someone I definitely started with," says Spek Won. "He produced the first track of mine that ever got played on the radio, so we'll always have that bond in the relationship."
Another relationship he continues to maintain is with members of music and multimedia collective 88 Days of Fortune, even though he is no longer part of the crew.
"We're basically 88 Days of Fortune family, we just continued the connection," he says of working with female vocal duo bizZarh.
It's this flexible approach that comes across loud and clear on Sofa King Amazing.
"I'm not afraid to embrace my past and present," Spek Won says. "I don't deny what I thought and felt at one particular time. I feel like that's another reason why I love music, because each song is like a time capsule. I'll record it, because at that time I felt like that. And then, who knows, it might be seven months later, I'll record a song and I'll feel totally different. That one song I recorded before represents how I felt at that specific time."