Rapper Naeem, formerly known as Spank Rock, has released a new single entitled “Swaye(e)d,” today on Boysnoize Records. Naeem is the first name of the Baltimore rapper named Naeem Juwan, who has remained relatively quiet since the release of his 2014 EP The Upside.
According to a press release Naeem’s upcoming project is “reminiscent of the old Spank Rock sound but tackles the feelings of paranoid confusion, desperation and aggression felt globally these past few years. It’s a call on listeners to lift up the downtrodden.”
This new track is less of an escapist fantasy for the rapper, and discusses more political issues such as corruption, incompetent authority figures and institutional problems which have been in the public eye for the past couple of years. The beat utilizes the familiar Boys Noize production sound, with hard heading bass and a backing techno rhythm, a style which has exploded with the popularity of UK Grime and releases such as Vince Staple’s 2017 album Big Fish Theory.
“Spank Rock was a very specific voice between Alex Epton (XXXChange) and myself that was then reinforced by a group of our closest friends like Baltimore’s Sankofa djembe drummers, to DJs Devlin and Darko, and Amanda Blank,” Naeem exclusively commented to mxdwn. “Those times meant so much to me that I felt this burden to recreate them but could not do it on my own. Now working truly as a solo artist, the music became very personal. And making all other big decisions on my own, it just felt like the right time to change.”
At the Bonnaroo music festival back in June, indie band Bon Iver invited the newly named Naeem on-stage to perform three new songs to the crowd. While “Sway(e)d,” is not part of the three tracks that were performed at the festival the songs are expected to come out on a later date, while Naeem’s feature length LP is set for release this winter.
Spank Rock originally began as a production rapper duo featuring Juwan as a rapper and producer Alex Epton(aka XXXChange). After making a name for themselves in the Philadelphia music scene, and a tour with Beck, the duo released YoYoYoYoYo on Big Dada Records in 2006.
Epton eventually left Spank Rock in 2007, choosing to pursue his own solo production career while Juwan signed a contract with Downtown Records. That same year Juwan as Spank Rock released the Bangers & Cash EP with producer Benny Blanco.
The rapper’s time at Downtown Records wasn’t easy, however. Unhappy with the direction his planned album Everything is Boring, was going in, the label confiscated the artist’s tapes and refused to fund the record any further.
Juwan was eventually able to get his tapes back and eventually released his album Everything is Boring and Everyone is a Fucking Liar in 2011 on his own Bad Blood record label, with the help of Boysnoize Records. The album featured a variety of producers including British DJ Mark Ronson, LCD Soundsystem guitarist Tyler Pope and former Spank Rock member Epton.
In 2017 the rapper teamed up with synth-pop artist Poliça for the track “Still Counts,” for the annual record store day in April 22 of that year. A week prior to that release, the rapper joined electronic and sampling legends the Avalanches at Coachella, who did a short touring stint in the US for their 2016 album Wildflower, their first release after a 16 year-long hiatus since 2000’s Since I Left You.
Photo Credit: Pamela Lin