A WECB Show Profile: Spitshine
by Noah Adaikkalam
The rap scene is anything but complacent. With big shifts in sound and the redefining of rap music as artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Chance the Rapper begin to warp the perceptions of the genre with their own personal influences, it is hard to keep up with what’s what.
Enter Gabe Allanoff, a Venice Beach native and the DJ for WECB’s program Spitshine. Spitshine covers what is fresh in the rap scene, helping you stay up to date on what you need to know. You’ll find our convo below. Along the way, we break down some personal preferences, the origin of his music taste, and the underground artists he wants to help bring up.
Why the name Spitshine?
It’s got two different meanings to it. I wanted the show to be hard news - it’s news about hip-hop, this is stuff that went on this week and it’s informative. But also, I wanted it to be casual. So I was thinking like, if you’re hanging out in front of a Deli or something or just like on the corner, you're playing the corner, and you're just like shooting the shit with people, how does that conversation go? So I was thinking a Spitshine would be sick, like a little Spitshine corner store or something and I was talking to my dad about this, cause I was trying to think of a name forever. When I had my old show, Slept on Radio, I had the name and then the concept. But this time around, I had interviews already booked before I had a title. But my dad was telling me that his grandfather, who I never met, ran a spitshine, haberdashery, corner store type shit, back in Philly, where they sold tank-tops, and t-shirts, and had a deli counter and I was like ‘thats sick that that is in my heritage.’ And ‘spitshine’ is super outdated like no-one shines their shoes anymore. So that is the one thing.
The other Spitshine I thought would be cool is like giving people shine for spitting, in a very corny sense, but I like that. So the fact that it had both, I was like ‘that's good.’ I wanted to call it Junkyard for a while but I want it to be like - there's this Maxo two-song EP called Gold in the Mud(2016) - I wanted it to be like that concept of finding gold in the mud, like sifting through the shit of SoundCloud to find something great. So I was like Spitshine is kinda the closest thing to that.
What would you say is the intention of your show, both for you and for the listeners?
I’ll start for the listener: I want it to be informative stuff that went on this week without a lot of the clutter. It’s entertainment news, that has a little bit of breakdown, and you get to listen to it, and it’s just informative stuff. There are people that I know have great music taste and I’m like ‘Did you hear this?’ and they’re like ‘No’ and I’m like ‘You’re sleeping on this! You need to know about this!’
For me, in a kinda like a semi-humorous, but also serious way if my friends are like ‘Make me a playlist’ or whatever I’m like ‘Give me 15 bucks.’ So I just send them the link to Spitshine. This is what is up right now in hip-hop, that you should know about. It’s so much easier.
Is your show derivative of growing up in LA? What led you to where you are musically right now and the idea of your show as a result of that?
I don’t want to force that, because I don’t think there’s necessarily a connection there. My music taste, absolutely. I would say, growing up in LA, I have a taste for really corny 2010 YG Shit. Somebody else would be like thats just tacky, but for me, I see a more vivid landscape, cause there's a whole world around that. People think it just sounds rubbery and cheap but it’s not. In terms of music journalism, I would say it’s very anti-LA. I would say it doesn’t have much to do with it at all. I’ve talked about this on the show a little bit, people are very anti following your dreams or whatever you want to do. I should say, there's a huge push for you to not be yourself and follow whatever your passion is, that's very strong, because everyone is so afraid to fail, and it’s like ‘oh don’t take any risks’- Spitshine is a risk.
How would you say music has informed your identity as a person? How does that appear in your show?
I don’t know how to separate that. I feel like I’ve been obsessed with music forever, my whole life. I’ve had strong phases that have been at the forefront of my identity forever. When I was in Elementary school, I was obsessed with Blink-182 which has now totally informed my love of Emo Rap. That was like my whole life, like I wore the same Blink shirt to second grade every day. Then, from like the end of elementary school to like the beginning of middle school I was obsessed with reggae, and I like new everything about all Dub and like reggae roots and stuff and that was my whole shit. And then in 6th grade- shoutout Shelton Sharpe- I was getting really into Tribe and he had this magazine that was an original J-Dilla magazine. It’s called Wax Poetic and it's like old classic hip-hop literature and it inspired me so much- to be a hip-hop writer too. This magazine change it for me like I just read it over and over, and I was super into Dilla, and I started vibing with him about hip-hop. Ever since then, ever since I was twelve, I’ve just been obsessed with hip-hop. Like, I wake up every day with some verse in my head.
So Tribe was like the big main influence for you for Hip-Hop?
I would say Dilla was more social. On a personal level, my uncle Will, from Philly, used to be a DJ. He had like his own college radio show and he had Queen Latifah come on his radio show- he was the first one to play her on air. So I told my uncle, ‘My PE teacher put me onto this Dilla guy because he’s producing all these Tribe songs’ and he’s like ‘Oh you’re into Hip-Hop, I got some shit for you.’ So I was over in Philly, I was visiting there like twice a year or something like that, and he gave me this flash drive that had like 750 late ’70s early ‘80s rap songs. So I got into hip-hop chronologically. I was super into Cowboy, Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and the Furious Five, KRS1- I loved KRSI so much. That was it for me when he gave me his flash drive and I ran that up in my MacBook and I was like ‘this shit’s crazy.’
What’s the direction of your show? Are you thinking of evolving it anymore?
The direction I really want to go in, what has the biggest room for improvement, is the branding of the show, the marketing of the show, how many people know about the show, how easy it is to listen to it, all that stuff. I’m very happy with where it is right now. But yea, I’m tryna make shirts, and hoodies and shit. Stickers and shit that would be cool. That's kinda the next move, to let more people know about this shit, and get a bigger variety of the guests. Just Mateo every week is fun and all, but that was not the template of the show. I thought I was going to have trapchat with a different guest every week. It would be trapchat for the first half, and then every week a themed DJ set. And it’s turned into, every week, just two hours of trap chat, me and Mateo.
If you could bring anyone you’ve met in the underground up and just drop them in the top 100 right now, who would it be?
So there's this guy, his name is ‘Kendrick Lamar’ - no. This is my life goal is to be able to have this type of power. I want to answer this, not just how they deserve it on their own, but someone who is good for music forever.
Man, there are so many people. It’s someone who has to have the depth too. I’d say the person I’d put on the very top is Mike or Maxo. Nah, scratch that, Maxo; the answer starts now. So he’s from Pomona. So he’s from like way, way out, east, Inland Empire. He’s so good. There is nobody like him. The thing that I admire about him most and the reason why he is good for music entirely, and not just his own music, is that he’s taking rap to a level of vulnerability I have never heard. It’s the opposite of braggadocious rap, but he’s still proud to be who he is. He has this song, Gold Man, that's just this beautiful shimmering song that's just about black greatness, and it’s just this amazing song. He also has this song called Nickel to a Dime, where he says this line that I think about actually every day. It came out in early 2016 but the re-released it but the line is this: “Baby don’t play me for a fool now / I’m fuckin on these other girls like they you now” which is something no one would EVER admit. He’s like ‘I’m not over this girl.’ It’s the opposite of ‘oh I’m cool,’ like ‘ I’m over this girl, I don’t have any feelings’ he’s like ‘I’m an emotional man.’
So I’d say Maxo. He’s vulnerable, he can spit, he’s got these incredible non-rhymes. He’s the only one from this whole Some Rap Songs (Earl Sweatshirt's new album), Adé Hakim (a producer of this new album), Mike world, standing on the corner shit, he’s the only one that’s been left behind and I think it’s because he’s on the west coast. Everyone else is from New York and he’s out in the Inland Empire. Like, he’s stuck in Pomona, set him free!
But he is so fucking good, and nobody knows who he is. Like I’ve played his unreleased Tumblr songs on Slept on Radio that have like five plays, and everyone is like ‘Yo this is the song that stuck out from this week’s episode.’ So yea, Maxo.
Gabe’s show is legit. The interview ended up becoming a pretty great conversation, the openness on his part is something he’s not afraid to share with people, as evident in his show.
It’s an honest, informative take on underground and mainstream alike that keeps you up on what's happening with rap. His show is a rap essential; do not sleep on it next semester.