Record & Tape Exchange is a recurring series where artists walk us through their music libraries on a physical and memory-based level. These are the songs and projects that hold special meaning, transport us to moments in their lives, and beyond. 

Deem Spencer is a 27 year old rapper from Jamaica, Queens whose honest, heartfelt meditations on grief have earned him accolades like BBC Radio’s Best New Artist. His new single “To Have It All” drops November 9th. 

 

What song reminds you the most of your childhood?
“Just Fine,” by Mary J. Blige. I was in sixth grade when that came out, and my mom used to drive around New York blasting that song. Anytime it comes on, it brings me back to being in the car with my mom.


What was the first physical record you remember buying?
The first CD I ever bought was called Lost and Found by Will Smith. That came out in 2006. I was 10 years old, and the record had already been out for a little while. I picked it up at FYE. It had some joints on it. It had “Switch,” which was a big joint for the Nickelodeon kids back then. It had this joint I liked, called “Party Starter,” which I found out was written by Ludacris. And I found out, because one day I'm like, "Oh, this joint feels like Luda." I looked it up and it was written by him.


What song reminds you the most of home? 

This question made me think of my childhood. My physical childhood home, and the song that always brings me back there is “Through the Wire” by Kanye West. It used to play on MTV before I went to school, and it was such a heavy video. That song always brings me back to third, fourth grade. Getting ready to go to school and the little breakfast. Getting ready with my mom, stuff like that... That song never fails to pull me back in that little room.


What song reminds you of traveling to a specific place? 

I have a couple of answers for this one. As a kid, I went to Disney World one time, in like 2003. “Hey Ya!” by Outkast was out and we were driving through Orlando, and we were little kids in the backseat or whatever. And my little cousin, he was asleep next to me. And the part where Andre's like, "Shake it, shake shake it." He was asleep. And then when that part came on, my cousin woke up out of his sleep dancing. And it was the funniest thing in the world. And yeah, "Hey Ya!", reminds me of that. It woke my cousin up, he woke up dancing. The second song takes me back to the first time I ever went on tour in 2018. The day we flew out to LA for the first show, the Shek Wes album, Mudboy, came out. That's all I was listening to on tour. Any of those songs. But specifically this one called “Never Lost.” It's probably the least popular joint on there, but whenever I hear it, I can see myself hopping off the sprinter, standing outside the venue, stuff like that.

 

What is the song that you wish you had written?

“Can We Pretend” by Bill Withers.


What is the best song to play at a house party?
“Only You” by Steve Monite.

 

Describe one of your favorite songs without actually naming it or the artist who made it.
So one of my favorite songs, this guy from my neighborhood in Queens is singing to a girl, and he asked her almost 22 questions.


You're abducted by aliens and when you wake up on the spaceship, they pass you the aux. What is the song that you're playing to convince them not to destroy Earth?
The song to save humanity? I gotta go with something really good then. I would play “Throw Some D's,” by Rich Boy. I'm always disarmed when that song comes on. It has one of the best beats. 

 

Interview by Atoosa Moinzadeh
Further Reading:
The brains behind cult clothing label Saint Luis shares the songs that have soundtracked his life.
The New York City rap crew sat down with BRICK for our latest Record & Tape Exchange - featuring DMX, Aphex Twin, Nelly, D. Savage and Rick Astley. Yeah, Rick Astley.⁠