“I Fancy Myself a ‘Classic Man’ but in the Most Perverse Sense” — An Interview with SPEAK!

In advance of his latest EP, Sex Quest 3, some questions for the human head of hair, SPEAK!
By    September 9, 2015


If you’ve left the house in LA over the last five years, you’ve inevitably encountered SPEAK! — the Hair God, Craig’s List Killa, and Art Goon — usually surrounded by throngs of well-wishers like a victorious Luchador.

Before he came to fame as the bars behind “Gucci Gucci,” the Moreno Valley-raised hedonist had already achieved local renown for a sharp wit, agile skill, and ability to wear a technicolor dreamcoat poncho in sub-tropical heat without breaking a sweat. He’s a character in the form that modern life usually fails to produce. A profane and funny rapper prone to total absurdity without self-parody (unless it’s knowing self-parody).

The archetype dates back to antiquity. The sly prophet wandering the Sinai swaying people towards idolatry, the epicurean Casanova with a squad of concubines feeding him imported Macedonian grapes, the professional wrestler with flamboyant garb and a loud mouth. These all make plenty of sense in the modern rap world, in least through the colorful manifestation of Anthony Negrete.

His latest incarnation is as the perverted leader of the Sex Quest. Over the last year, SPEAK! and the excellent producer Caleb Stone have dropped multiple volumes as a duo — the latest of which, Sex Quest 3, comes out this week. Check the video for “Tweak” featuring fellow lothario, Antwon.

In advance of his latest carnal ode, I asked SPEAK! a battery of questions. As always, he had answers.

How did you jugg YouTube & Red Bull to create the leisure music of your dreams?

Speak: Last summer I was working with Toy Selectah & Camilo Lara at Redbull’s studio in Santa Monica. Toy & Camilo are two of the most groundbreaking musicians to come from Mexico and were working on a huge collaborative world music album. Redbull enjoys all kind of weirdo music and helps facilitate their million dollar state of the art studios to the artist’s cause. I got close to the studio coordinator but she was hesitant to book me. She didn’t think my music was special or diverse enough. So I did what any red-blooded American would do and lied through my teeth. I told her I was producing a Spanish language EDM POP album & I was going to have Paulina Rubio and other Latin stars come through. I was promising Jaunes, Enrique..Pitbull..all of them. Instead I brought through Antwon, RatKing, Trinidad James & Burger Records. Haha.

Youtube was a whole different finesse. They have this low-key creators program that they don’t really advertise. If you have 10K + subscriptions your channel is eligible to become a part of production program where they make their sound stages, sets, lighting and camera equipment available for free. Creating big visuals costs big money. Just the rentals on a RED CAMERA alone are about a grand a day.

They are owned by Google so it’s pretty uptight and they are serious about their application process. I told them my channel was going to be used for unboxings, make up tutorials, Anthony Fantano-type music reviews. That kind of goofy shit is their cup of tea so they gave me the green light. The first day on set I had about 100K worth of equipment & 10 naked women on set simulating lesbian sex acts under soft lights and fog. We set off the fire alarm in the whole building and the fire marshal came and threatened to shut down all the productions on set. My best friends have face tattoos and were taking liberties with YouTube’s free on-site barista. It was a circus.

Who are your favorite historical models of debauchery?

Speak: Well, much like Jidenna, I fancy myself a classic man but in the most perverse sense. I hold Giacomo Casanova in the highest regard. Histoire de ma vie is the essentially the gospel for any womanizing playboy. Casanova loved to get wasted off the wine, go on adventures, and have the freakiest sex with aristocratic women. He often used fake aliases and stories to seamlessly maneuver in and out of social circles he had no business in. He gambled religiously and used his earnings to fund his extravagant life. I once lost $20,000 at high stakes blackjack in Vegas. I won most it back the next morning and ordered hookers for me and all my friends. Some call it debauchery. I call it normal.

What are the tools and philosophy that one must adopt to undertake the ideal sex quest?

Speak: You are going to need stamina. Both of the creative and sexual kind. A map and compass will help you when you’re in lands where GPS doesn’t work. One must be able to listen to his heart and follow the stars. You can’t take the voyage without proper protection. You’ll need an assortment of condoms for the women & a machete to keep their angry husbands at bay and the burning desire to experiment with all things kinky.

Top 5 Hair Styles in History?

1. South American soccer mullet.
2. African Soccer Mohawk. The one with the Roscoe Dash swirls and stars on the side.
3. Sean Paul Caribbean/reggateone braids.
4. The afro.
5. The 80’s Bon Jovi Ultimate warrior hair metal tower of hair. I’m a firm believer if you are a true rock star or professional wrestler that long hair should be mandatory. It’s bad ass.

What do you think people most commonly misunderstand about you?

Speak: That I’m self sabotaging and that I don’t want to be successful. It hurts me when I get ran down as some psychotic underground rapper that doesn’t want bigger things for his career. That narrative pisses me off. I want to do EVERYTHING and I am. It’s hard when people don’t see the vision and are unwilling to hear your ideas out because they have an inaccurate perception of who you are. I’m still fighting for my respect not just as a rapper but as a creative. I want to be as big as George Michael was in the 80’s, but I refuse to do it in a way that comprises my integrity and artistry. There is no strategy or marketing plan. It’s just me and a handful of colorful ideas. Give me the resources and let me thrive.

If you could go back in time and tell your 18 year old self something, what would you tell him?

Speak: I’d tell 18 year-old Anthony to bet the house on a car service company called Uber.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what book, film, and record would you bring?

Speak: Blood Sport would be my film of choice. It’s one of those KTLA Saturday afternoon films you watch on TV when you’re poor and don’t have cable. It’s easily Van Damme’s finest hour and cinematic gold. I’d read Sandra Cisnero’s House on Mango Street over and over until the end of time. It reads like a classic album plays. Each vignette is it’s own song that makes up a masterful narrative of what it means to be Mexican-American. It is a work of MEXCELLENCE. Mexican Excellence. As far as albums are concerned I’d probably loop Brian Jonestown Masacre’s Give it Back over and over. It’s the perfect blend of folk, pop, psychedelic and 90’s alternative. Anton Newcombe is a genius.

What do you value most in life?

Speak: Expression. Being able to tell my stories. The ability to make these ideas become living breathing tangible things. More importantly, being able to express my love for life, friends, and family through my actions while also being the recipient of such love. To hug my mother. To make sweet love on the beach to a beautiful brown goddess under the moon light. I love talking to my father. Hearing his words and tales of youth. I see a lot of my self in him. The creativity, the fearlessness, the resilience, his enthusiasm for life. I am little Ygnacio Cruz. He’s 70 and still challenging himself. It’s inspiring.

Who would your guests be at your ideal dinner party — dead or alive. What food would you serve?

Speak: Oh FUCK!! I’d invite Nikola Tesla, Jodorowsky, Frida Kahlo, [the] Poet Anney Terrain, Sega’s Yu Suzuki, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Can you imagine that table conversation? The gala would be co-hosted by Don Francisco of Sabado Gigante fame. I’d want to serve my Abuela’s hand wrapped tamales with arroz, frijoles, and fideo as a side. There would be lots of cold beer & wine.

What is the meaning of life (according to Speak)?

Speak: To create love and to be loved. It’s not some pseudo-Coachella weekend hippie philosophy, it’s the only thing worth making in this life. Everything else is fleeting. Love is forever. Out of love comes creation, change, and true happiness. Through love you can gain everlasting life.

What are you most proud about the latest SexQuest?

Speak: I’m most proud that I was able to create a world for the listener to get lost in. There was zero involvement from managers, investors, PR people. Its all by design by way of Caleb & I. He provided the landscapes and out of that my visual garden grew. It’s not just some fly rap songs. It’s a 360 immersive world to get lost in. Everything from the SEX QUEST HOTLINE commercial to the merchandising look book being a hidden link on a Craigs List personal ad.

When you see a Tim Burton film, you are transported to his sets and are living through his characters. I am not a work of fiction. I’m flesh & bone and blood and hair. This is my life and I want you to feel the soft porn lights, experience the passion and get lost in the sonics. It’s a project of great scale that I would have never in a million years thought I’d attempt. The roll out, music, visuals… this is what people who run major labels try to do for their artist. I’ve eliminated the need for that because I never had that. We did it with ideas and obnoxious self belief and did it on the grandest stage possible.

What do you hope people take away from this project.

Speak: I want them to enjoy the voyage and feel inspired. Even if you don’t care one fucking lick about me as a person or my art, I want you to walk away with belief that you can do anything in this life and do it in the most grandiose way possible.


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