By Aaris A. Schroeder
Sacramento, CA native; Carmichael, to be exact; says hip-hop producer and emcee Spencer Williams AKA Spends Quality, is where this down-to-earth and hardworking industry head began his journey into the world of entertainment.
It all started in the late ‘90s when Spencer was 14-years-old and his classmate, Derek Smith AKA Djust-D, a year younger, set up two Gemini turntables, a mixer and a golden microphone. His parents worked the normal 9-5 pm shifts, so while Djust-D scratched and beat-matched instrumentals, Spencer put his poetry and in-class rap-writing to a test. Weekends were spent researching and purchasing records and then playing with the turntables or listening to new CDs on their CD players.
Spencer caught on quickly and besides emceeing, he began making beats with a Boss DR-202 drum machine and recording at his friend J.D.’s house.
“We recorded on a Roland Tape 8-Track and I learned about effects, processors and how to get the sound I was looking for,” says Spencer, all of which took place in a bedroom studio.
His family got on the bandwagon and purchased a drum machine for his 18th birthday. By ’01, Spencer and his crew; now made up of Fossil and Bobby Bath, all had the equipment they needed to record their first project under the name, “CFO Funk Franchise.” CFO stands for “Carmichael-Fair-Oaks” after the neighborhood where they grew up.
“We had no idea what we were doing [and] we didn’t care,” says Spencer.
Through the years, Spencer was involved with several weeklies, monthlies and mini-tours. Spencer prides himself on grabbing the mic and having a clear voice that everyone can hear. He has not only rapped but has also hosted events as M.C.
“It took some time to develop my stage voice and how to cut through the mix, and understand mic dynamics,” says Spencer.
A few years later, Spencer found himself in South Lake Tahoe and then Oregon where he studied Journalism at the University of Oregon and then landing in Sonoma County where he received a degree in Anthropology with a focus on Linguistics and Cultural Anthropology at Sonoma State University; a degree fitting for an indie artist and producer. Sonoma became more of a permanent home. Spencer found Sonicbloom in ’03 with Emcee Hunter Blackwell and producer/musicians Mr. Tay and J.Kendall. Djust-D joined Sonicbloom as their official DJ and the game was on. All albums recorded, produced and released were stamped with, “CFO Recordings, Planet Earth.”
“From the Get-Go” was the first album released by Sonicbloom in ’05 with official physical and digital distribution. The group had professional public relations, merchandising, touring and more. Not only that, the group also showed something different than other indie acts by having an organized stage presence with lighting, dancers, vendors; something extra for the attendees. People always know that they are going to get something special when they come to a Sonicbloom show. SonicBloom was growing into a beautiful flower.
Emcee Adam Fission [previously Adomant] was added to the crew in ’06 and Spencer released his album, “Projections.” Sonicbloom performed over 300 shows to date, all over the West Coast.
Releasing, “Paradigm Lift” in ’08 and “Motherload;” Sonicbloom’s last album, released in ’10 proved to be the most successful to date for Sonicbloom. The group has truly showed artistic integrity and passion for the career.
As Spencer’s favorite local group, an inspiration to why he started emceeing and getting involved with music, CFO began working with The CUF who had not released an album in 10 years. Each member of The CUF had different music projects, art projects, businesses, jobs and life just tearing them apart from each other as a musical unit even though the group remained close friends.
“I met up with [The CUF] while rocking some shows in the Sacramento area and lit a fire under their asses,” says Spencer who released, “CUF CAVIER” under CFO Recordings.
After the major local re-success with THE CUF and putting Sonicbloom on the back burner, Spencer decided to work on his solo career to give himself a little dusting off as an emcee and threw a lot of energy into running CFO Recordings. This is when he was introduced to Maryann and LosTribe through N8 the Gr8 (The CUF). Spencer also helped with J.Kendal’s solo R&B project with N8 the Gr8, to be released April ’13.
“I really want to focus in on my music as a producer and emcee, so I downsized how many artists I am representing through CFO,” says Spencer who wants to produce more Sonicbloom music in the near future.
N8 the Gr8 and MaryAnn founded their own label, “N-CROWD.” LosTribe is affiliated.
“They were working on building their own brand and I am continuing to work on building my CFO brand,” says Spencer who is currently focusing on his solo projects, March 12, “Time Piece” produced by Mr. Tay and “Flight Music,” a solo-project other Sonicbloom family projects. Spencer is still involved with the The CUF through member, Brotha RJ on a special project.
“Nobody is making that much bank off this independent music, so you have to be passionate about what you do. You have to be intrinsically motivated. The greatest accomplishment is that 12 to 13 years later, I’m still doing this and [it] just keep getting better. I feel like we have only just touched the tip of the iceberg,” says Spencer who currently uses Ableton Live for composition and BPM made by MOTU for his beats.