Hell took a few days off. It's hibernating. Taking a well-earned nap. It must have gone on a date or something. Maybe it's at the ballpark cheering on its favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees. Point is, the hellish Texas heat isn't terrorizing the citizens of the Valley Ranch development in Irving this Saturday morning. The air is crisp and cool and the sky is gray. What a perfect day for a run.
A Saturday morning run is routine for Terrence Spectacle, whose given name is Terrence Morris. The 19-year-old pop-rap musician was on Tarleton State University's track team during his freshman and lone year at the school and still makes it a point to stay in shape. So this is where your narrator will have to break the fourth wall for a moment: Any sort of running or exercise in general is not routine for me. I eat things that taste good and clog arteries. I am a smoker and am going to do a quick run with Spectacle. Hell took the day off to visit my blackened lungs.
Spectacle does a number of stretches and loosens up his muscles before taking off on a light jog, his curly Afro bouncing in the wind.
Originally from a Detroit suburb called Southfield in eastern Michigan, Spectacle left as a result of the recession. His mother was laid off by a materials-making company, Plastipak. "When the recession hit is really when I saw my mom buckle," he says. "She's never been a runner. I've never seen my mom run in her life."
However, they had to leave the deteriorating city and head down south. "She was like, 'This is the next chapter of our lives.'"
At 14, Spectacle found himself picking everything up and running from Southfield, Michigan, to Valley Ranch.
Detroit and Valley Ranch have their differences. You don't get a cookie for assuming this much. Whereas Spectacle relishes a more diverse mix of people in Texas, Detroit's magnetic personalities are something he harkens back to.
"The people are so different. In the South they have Southern hospitality," he says. "But in Detroit, there's a swagger that's just uncanny."
Spectacle had done his fair share of moving throughout the Midwest well before a crumbling economy forced him to be an expatriate of the region altogether. Thanks to "family dysfunction," he lived in Ann Arbor, Chicago and various areas around Detroit. Papa was a rolling stone and Mama couldn't deal with his shit, according to Spectacle.
When he was 12, Spectacle's parents split, and his mother's demanding job saw that he would often be left alone. Where he could've gotten himself into trouble, as many precocious youth do -- "I had friends coming out of the eighth grade that moved bricks," he says -- Spectacle spent time on the computer, soaking up music and poetry. Some of his notable influences include the wandering jazz-influenced couplets of Langston Hughes, poet of record William Shakespeare, king of all that is wit Oscar Wilde and recently passed feminist luminary Maya Angelou.
Spectacle was always something of an artist. As a child he played saxophone in the school band, got into spoken-word poetry early on in his teenage years and was a theater kid. His first role took place in middle school, where he was in a semi-original play that combined Animal Farm and The Wizard of Oz.
Spectacle took an advanced theater class in high school, yet he never acted in any more plays. He says his band director wouldn't allow it. On top of track, it would take up too much time and band directors in general are greedy with their students' time. However, the barrier placed on being a thespian wasn't a tragedy at the time.
"I was on the back burner for a really long time with my talents. I was hesitant to run with the torches," he says. "I always wanted to be more of an underdog than anything."
Said talents are something he's learned to put in the foreground. Spectacle has fostered a brand of loopy, dazed, psychedelic hip-hop that leans more toward pop than anything. The title track from his upcoming album NuDallas, due out August 19, finds Spectacle emphatically proclaiming that Dallas is his city, over bouncy production that paints a picture of flowers in bloom. "Wanna" features Spectacle singing abstract lyrics over the same bright utopian landscape on the feel-good posse cut, "Blu Summer," which features guest spots from Brandon Fxrd, KissedKilled, Jarvis Hodges and Crit Morris. Kanye West, ball of fury and genius, rants about the heights he can't reach, but the glass ceiling he's broken allows people like Spectacle to further blur the lines of what hip-hop and pop music are allowed to be.
Spectacle often writes lyrics and composes music while submerged in darkness, creating an atmosphere that's both eerie and lucid. "I'm really cut off from my feelings. I don't know why that is," he says. "The most meaningful words, to me, expose numbness and what it's like to feel for something that you know you can't feel."
Spectacle is a part of a collective that's a cross between the late '90s' Soulquarians and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary's Silverlake Conservatory called the IRAS. The acronym stands for Independent Recording Arts Society founded by Spectacle's manager, Matthew Winn, 21.
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The IRAS is a not-for-profit organization founded in April 2013 that seeks to promote, educate and encourage artists, regardless of their medium, in the Dallas area.
"To me, the IRAS is like the Hogwarts of artistry," Winn says. As of now, between 20 and 30 artists are involved with the IRAS in some capacity.
"Right now people are like, 'Y'all are talking a big game,'" Spectacle says of the IRAS. "But everything we said we're gonna do, we have." The IRAS has cultivated a legitimate artist community in the Dallas area in a relatively short time. Most collectives throw shows to cast a spotlight on the talent, as does the IRAS, but fostering a sense of brotherhood -- something which Spectacle says was lost on him until now -- may be its most important contribution yet.
Spectacle is no longer an athlete on a university track team, nor is he escaping a city facing an economic plunge. Yet he is still running. He's running on Saturday mornings to keep the blood flowing the way it's supposed to. To get an endorphin rush. He runs in circles around a track or back and forth doing sprints. Even when he isn't decked out in mesh athletic gear, curly Afro bouncing in the wind, Specactle is still running. He's running toward something, and now, he's finally bold enough to run with the torches.