The Road to The Sorest Loser…

(TSL cover art. Will probably have to add a title if I don’t want distributor guff)

Just like my Road to Songs For… pieces, I’m up for taking whoever wants to go on an adventure through the making of (what’s slated to be, for real this time) my last album as Speed on the Beat, The Sorest Loser. Add this into my upcoming discussion with True God, and (hopefully), you’ll get an idea of why this became a thing. It probably won’t be epic storytelling, as I literally wrote this as the words came to me. But, if you want a train-of-thought look into the album, here you go.

When my mother died, I legitimately said “fuck music.” I legitimately said “fuck that” to a lot of things, but music was a biggie. I didn’t have it in me to write bars, record tracks, work on beats, and so on. Obviously, looking a loved one is painful. But this? It wasn’t even the “good” type of painful where you’re using said pain to craft genius work. It just…hurt and I felt empty as all hell. Compound this hurt, this apathy towards music with the fact that I recorded the last song for Baltimore Commercial Break, “Hello Baltimore (Re-Visitation Rights),” less than a week before she died, and it was clear: I needed to run away from music for a while.

Over the next eight months (between this track and the release of Unhinged), I, obviously, started to write again and work on stuff with DAR and other folks. But, just about every bar I recorded, every beat I worked on, there was an underlying sadness unseen in my work. Yes, my mom died. However, even during the time I’d worked on Songs For… and Death of the King (one of my most-polarizing and depressive albums), there was still a sliver of optimism. Not this time, though. There was a venom to my bars, one that almost had people think I was, on the sly, instigating beef and/or a distance between myself and my DAR brethren.

Instead, each barb was a reference to a flesh-and-blood family member who’d gone out of their way to, while being “supportive,” make me either relive seeing Mama Young die in front of me or to put words in my mouth, or whatever. This is something that was slated to be addressed on an unrecorded track called “Familial Bullshit.” Again, underlying sadness and anger and whatnot. It happens, especially after losing one of the few people you give a fuck about.

After “getting through” Unhinged (an album which I consider to be “the black sheep” of my discography and the black sheep of the retroactively-named “Baltimore Trilogy,” including BCB and The Sorest Loser…), I was, again, tired. Considering that most of the album dealt with me rehashing March 28, 2015 several times (ironic, I know) and pretty much ending the album with a question mark and screaming “Mama, I’m done…I’m finally done,” I needed, yet another, break from music. But, like a DIY Jordan coming back with the four-five…I found myself back in a booth some months later, laying down verses.

There was something different about these takes, the first one being “…Don’t Call It a Comeback…”

Like, everything clicked. There weren’t (m)any lo-fi moments, the bars were on-point, the beat was cool. Plus, there wasn’t an underlying sense of hope. It was pretty clear as day, almost back to the point of my “J dot” days, where I’d drop some pretty hope-filled songs. It was then I decided something, even if it could, potentially, go against my whole “retired at 27” thing.
..I had to work on one last project as Speed on the Beat, SOTB, SOTB!!!, whatever. And, it had to be one that wasn’t so damned grounded in some sort of tragedy (self-created or God-given). That project, early on, was called Journey in the Wayback. And, like its partial namesake, the album would feature “old Speed on the Beat” teaching young “J dot” about his history/future. However, I scrapped most of that idea because, as classic as Peabody’s Improbable History cartoons are (and/or as much as my oldest son liked the 2014 reboot), it was kind of corny.
This was early-to-mid March. So, here I am, with (pretty much) my dick in my hand with “DCIAC” out and no album ready (rookie mistake. Ironically, it’s one I’ve warned against myself many times. Fault my faulty mind). But, things, as they do sometimes, started to whir together like clockwork. Beats came, ideas came, the concept of featuring older “J dot” segments came to bring my career as Speed on the Beat (the artist) to a close came. Soon later, I was ready. I dropped the album name, now The Sorest Loser… (named after an Earl Weaver quote), I dropped “Se Roquel,” I even sang a bit. All in all, I was ready to begin a full-on onslaught of promotion for the project.

…and then, like clockwork, some craziness happened out the blue. So, remember when I was on social media talking about, you know, “pray for me,” “I feel like death, I look like it too,” and so on? Well, most of May, I dealt with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. I won’t show pictures. But, if you’re curious to get a perspective of what I dealt with, go Google it. Just make sure you don’t have weak stomachs.
So, I’m in Holy Cross thinking to myself “damn, as fucked up as this is. This whole ‘sorest loser’ thing applies doubly. In addition to talking about my need to make a ‘happy’ album, it talks about me literally being sore as hell, in a hospital bed, working on music like some Dilla shit.” Now, please note. I’m not comparing my music to Dilla’s. But, now I understand and appreciate Donuts that much more and, because of that desire to not have my life be some depressing-ass footnote in regional hip-hop history, I kept working and healing myself. 
Plus, you know, the kids kept me going. Gotta love the kids. And their mother. But, definitely the kids.

In a couple weeks, TSL drops, barring any other medical emergencies or something crazy. I hope you enjoy it (and the upcoming interview). I know that I, for the first time in a long time, enjoyed making it.
Speed on the Beat

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