When Greg and I were in high school, we had an assistant principal named Mr. Jenkins who had long dreadlocks and had formerly lived the life of a rapper on the rise in Atlanta. Simultaneously wowed by the fact that our assistant principal had hung out with Ludacris and amused by the fact that he had purportedly released a song called “Weed Makes The World Go Round” (which is sort of the height of irony for someone whose job it is to keep kids off drugs), we wished that we had been there to witness the rap career of Mr. Jenkins, also known as Spectac.

As far as I knew, Spectac was no longer an ongoing project, although I never got the full story about Mr. Jenkins when he left, and it appears that he still is making music as a hobby. Anyway, it would be hard to express how excited I was just now when I looked on 2Dopeboyz and saw this.

Spectac apparently teamed up with 9th Wonder around 2002 and made an album called The Corner of Spec and 9th that never got released. Recently, it seems like he’s been working on some tracks for an album called Superman For a Day: Clark Kent for Life.

When I was in high school I didn’t really listen to hip hop, so it’s unsurprising that I never listened to Spectac. I wouldn’t have appreciated him, anyway, so I guess it’s good that I didn’t find out how good of a rapper my former assistant principal is until now. But damn. Spectac can rap. And he’s friends with 9th Wonder, which I find impressive now. Also with Large Professor, Big Daddy Kane, and Phife Dawg.

As far as these tracks, “Rain Drops,” which is produced by Justus League affiliate Khrysis, is definitely the better of the two. I can’t get over the great sample or the excellent hook (sung by R&B artist Keisha Shontelle), and it turns out that, not only does Spectac have a voice similar to Ghostface Killah’s, he delivers a story in this song that rivals Ghostface’s storytelling skill. This rap, which explains the difficulties of interracial dating in the South, may be the best story rap I’ve ever heard. These lines are searing and poignant: “Ran to the bathroom door, kicked it in/On the floor near the sink, with the water still running/I fell by your side quick enough to hear your heart stop/Ever since that cloudy night, I’m hearing rain drops.” A track this good from anyone would make me turn my head, but it really draws my attention coming from a former school administrator of mine (the pressure’s on, President Oden).

The other track, “Pimp Story,” produced by 9th Wonder, is, like “Rain Drops,” an effortlessly nuanced story, and, even though it lacks the gorgeous soulfulness of Khrysis’ beat, the wistful beat backs some fantastic storytelling: “He comes back home to my mom/And he’s begging for forgiveness/But her heart is rock solid/She don’t acknowledge/She educated now/While he was gone she went to college.”

The album, The Corner of Spec and 9th feels a little tossed-off in comparison to these songs, and I’ve never been a big fan of 9th’s production, so it gets a little tired towards the end, but still. My assistant principal made an album with 9th Wonder. And his rapping is great: “NASCAR lost Earnhardt/Number 3/But we lost three letters/B-I-G/and P-A-C.” The best thing about Spectac is that he can rap politically, but it doesn’t sound loopy or paranoid like Talib Kweli or something. I guess educators make educated rappers.

You can download the tracks here:

Spectac – “Rain Drops”
Spectac – “Pimp Story”
Spectac and 9th Wonder – The Corner of Spec and 9th

These are courtesy of kevinnottingham.com, which also has a great interview with Spectac.

Spectac’s MySpace

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