I wanted Baltimore Commercial Break: From Juke Joints to Greatness to be my last album. When I finished recording the last actual song for the album, “Hello Baltimore (Re-Visitation Rights),” there was a feeling of completion. I’d finally worked on a Baltimore-tinged album which interpolated and flipped Baltimore commercial jingles and whatnot, something I’d been trying to do since my “J dot Speed” days at Baltimore City College and the University of Maryland. It was a quirky (and slightly flawed) album. But, I felt it was the perfect adieu to my solo career.
Then, March 28th happened. As many of my readers know, March 28th, 2015 was the day that I lost my mother. That event was one of the final straws to music, to be honest. My mother was one of my biggest supporters and, without her, I kind of felt like “what’s the point to do this shit anymore? I’ve already set out and accomplished a lot. I have no energy left for it.”
Then, in mid-April, as I rummaged through some of her stuff in an effort to clean, I found myself overwhelmed with emotions, both happy and sad. So, I sat down, and started writing about my mother’s death and how everything went down. The album that eventually became Unhinged (The Case Study of Speed on the Beat) was originally a lot darker. I threw shots at family members over their handling of my mother’s death, and just in general. I was angry. Scratch that, I was freaking pissed–and this album was meant to show how pissed off I was about how everything happened.
On the release date of Baltimore Commercial Break, I started recording stuff for Unhinged, then known as Baltimore Commercial Break: The Aftermath. But, something stopped me from just turning this album into a bitching session about how sad and pissed I was about my mom’s death: a photo of her and me from, I believe, first grade.
“Speed,” I thought to myself. “Mama Young wouldn’t want this album–especially if it’s your final final album–to be angry and pissy. She’d want it to be a true portrait of who you are.” So, I scrapped many of the songs for the album, sat down, and started singing. My singing eventually turned into a Weeknd-like song. Then, I started rapping. The bars were on some freestyle, “No Hook” stuff (I was lazy, so that’s what the song’s name became). Then, I went and whipped up another beat. The beat was quirky–not BCB-levels, but something that would probably leave a few people with head-scratching looks. In a matter of weeks, I went from being limited by anger and sadness to being unhinged. The creative juices were flowing, pardon the cliche, and I had amassed an album’s worth of genre-bending songs.
So, I called the album Unhinged (The Case Study of Speed on the Beat) because it’s a true view into what makes me tick and who I am. It’s not just the bipolar-episode-having Speed, or the sad Speed, or the happy Speed. It’s everything that’s anything about me rolled into about 50 minutes of music. I hit up True God and asked if he had any beats I could use for the project and he blessed me with two tracks, the above-mentioned “Remember the Name” and “Flower Bed.” I reworked a song I did with DK AKA Wayne Watts, “Promised Land.” Additionally, I used a beat that Old Beats Record, a frequent collaborator with True and DAR, sent out. So, not only was I free artistically on this album…I also allowed someone else, even someone else outside of the immediate DAR circle, to handle production on some of my solo tracks–something I haven’t done in years.
I feel happy and amazed at this album. And if it’s truly my swan song, best believe that I’m going out with a bang. The album, in case you’re wondering, drops next Wednesday online. “Remember the Name” is the first and only actual single from the album–unless people ask for more. But, yeah. I wanted to do something different versus leaking half of the damn album as singles.