Los Angeles is forever a hotbed of creative activity, due in part to the fact that a great deal of the entertainment industry's revenue flows here. You can find people getting paid millions for ideas yet to be executed; you can find working class artists well past the age of retirement; you can find people working part time at a day job who are genuinely on the cusp of a great transformation that will catapult them into fame and worldly success; you can find people who have tasted the fruits of success, found them sour, and retreated to something less immediate; you can find people who will work in several freelance fields for the rest of their life, never attaining a modicum of fame, and somehow piecing together a living out of entirely disparate pursuits. In Los Angeles you can find nearly every articulation of the creative entrepreneur. We tend to focus on the highs or the lows, but its the in-betweens---the mediums---where change emerges from dynamic and immediate reactions to this environment.

In Los Angeles there is a rapper named Speak. He has spent the last 8 years rapping, and living in Los Angeles. He grew up in the midst of all these people making myriad livings in the entertainment industry. And he has continued to grow as an artist taking advantage of opportunities but never chasing them. Most people might know his work via Kreayshawn as he wrote her viral hit 'Gucci Gucci'. But Speak didn't write that song because he's making a living penning hits for internet darlings. Speak wrote that song because he's busy making art all the time, and it developed organically. That's why he hasn't gone on to become a highly paid ghostwriter. Instead he's a rapper continuing to make art, and developing his craft while he simultaneously develops a spontaneous plan for surviving and making money.

The cool thing about Speak is that he's doing it without succumbing to the dominant narrative. Very few people could go from being behind such a big hit to being an artist on the grind, and have it be natural and sincere. The tales of success we're fed suggest that after 'Gucci Gucci' Speak would either be a hero by penning other such massive hits, or be a washed up failure by not penning more massive hits. Instead, Speak does the unthinkable third option, and continues to use his personal experience as the basis for an evolving and ever-refining practice of art.

His most recent pursuits have found Speak in the company of producer Caleb Stone in a moderately sized practice space in downtown Los Angeles' Arts District. With two big windows they get ample daylight. The space contains no less than three drum kits, various instruments, a small pile of blankets on the floor, a makeshift isolation booth, and a small desk with a computer and two 8 inch KRK monitors. They're within walking distance of a taco stand, and no one ever complains about anything they do in their space. Rappers and producers come and go throughout the day and evening. And this very simple premise is the concept behind their recent series of Sex Quest releases. They're not concept albums at all, and truly the concept isn't even a concept. The reality is that these are two young artists with little accountability beyond themselves and their art, and that gives them a great deal of freedom, and with their creative energy, and their imaginative minds they are using that freedom to fruitful ends.

Although Speak could be writing hits for famous artists, he has chosen instead to focus on being an artist making a living off his art, and growing at a moderate pace. There's no need for him to deliver any material by any deadline, there's no need for him to conform to anything he doesn't see as productive. For instance, after dabbling with autotune slightly he found that lots of people responded positively to the results. So, him and Caleb started using auto tune more across Sex Quest 2 and the forthcoming Sex Quest 3. It wasn't a marketing move, or a push from an A&R looking to gain traction. It was just the result of creativity unfolding in real time.

Ultimately the results of Speak's creative output are less so the products of a market, and more so an encapsulation of the times. And yet, he manages to thoroughly execute a vision for his work that is at once transcendent and tangible. Speak isn't caught up in the future, or hung up on the past. He's just living life in the moment, and he's serious about preserving the sanctity of what he's got. By refusing to take the most obvious routes through Los Angeles' entertainment industry Speak is proving that you can be an artist, put creating art and personal development first, and not worry about the rest of it. As his recent acclaim has shown, the world catches up eventually.

Speak: Bandcamp / Facebook / Official Website