By AMANDA FOLSOM, Contributing Writer
Ever had a dream that you wanted to come true so badly, you would do anything in your power to make it happen? Well, Joey Spinelli knows exactly what that feels like.
Joseph Nicholas Spinelli, also known as “J. Spin,” is a 19-year-old from Wells, Maine, and rapping is his lifetime passion. Originally from Saugus, Massachusetts, Spinelli relocated with his parents and older sister Gina to Wells at age 4 where his father landed a job as a pianist. He attended Wells High School, graduating with the class of 2013 where he had a classic childhood growing up, making friends through school as well as being involved with team sports. From there he went off to the University of Maine, Orono, to study business, only to realize after the first semester that the typical college life wasn’t for him. Spinelli instead decided to follow his heart and started to pursue his passion: the music.
“When I was young my dad constantly had music playing all around my house all the time, so my dad would be playing music and I’d hear it,” Spinelli said. “I just started putting some words together on a piece of paper every now and then, and it actually came out pretty good.”
Originally thinking he wanted to be a professional athlete, being really into baseball throughout school, Spinelli explains that he realized he had the potential to pursue a future in music when he performed a rap song serving as a project for his freshman history class. After presenting the history rap to the class, Spinelli was surprised by the audience’s reactions.
“I played it for the class and my teacher was like ‘wow this is actually pretty good,’” Spinelli said. “So after that I was like I’m gonna stick with this and do it on a daily basis.”
Once he realized his rhythmical talent, from there on out he devoted all of his spare time to creating raps in and out of school, turning from Joey Spinelli, to J. Spin, the kid that can rap. For the last four years Spinelli has practiced a consistent four to five hours a day, and is usually up until three in the morning every night just writing. While other kids are out enjoying the nice weather, Spinelli is in his basement spitting rhymes.
“In the summer sunny days don’t matter to me, I’m gonna be in my basement regardless,” Spinelli said. “I’m pale white, I’m not getting no tan, and you’ll see my eyes are always super baggy.”
He writes all of his own music and everything he does comes from the heart. He explains that deciding what to write about is something that comes from the vibe of the beat, something that you feel, as well as enjoying writing about things he can relate to.
“I usually just feed off the beat and the vibes that are given to me. I try to write about things that relate to people my age and what’s going on around me where I can draw some sort of reaction from something.”
Spinelli also stresses the fact that he’s not the typical rapper, where he likes to change up the sound throughout his songs to keep it interesting. He does this by creating a variety of hooks and choruses.
“I’m a different kind of rap, I don’t rap about your typical things as far as cars, and money, all that stuff. I have different melodies I’m a very melodic rapper that’s what’s different about me.”
Working day in and day out since graduating from Wells High, Spinelli has teamed up with friend Sam Hill of West Bath, Maine, who produces all of Spinelli’s beats for him.
“Joey and I’s relationship through music is mostly through Twitter and we met through mutual friends,” Hill said. “We really liked what each other was doing and I’ve been sending beats back and forth for over a year now. I give tons of different beats and we both work out of our homes so our relationship through music is mostly us sending each other material back and forth.”
From there, Spinelli then goes to a local homemade studio based out of a home in Portland, Maine, where he records his lyrics along with Hill’s beats coming together to make songs, and in the summer of 2014 released his first album titled “Sprout Year.”
“Sprout Year” by J. Spin has a total of ten produced songs, with two of the most popular being “28 Grams” and “Bring it Home.” Spinelli said that producing an album is hard work and something that takes a lot of time, something you really have to be dedicated to. He tries to spend three days a week, three to four hours a day in the studio, which isn’t always easy.
“From start to finish, all the songs it probably took about five months to make and record all together,” Spinelli said.
If there’s another thing that makes J. Spin stand out from the rest, people say it’s his work ethic and dedication to the music.
“I could email him a beat at 4 a.m. and he’d be awake ready to write,” Hill said. “I see Joey only going farther with his music because he has the work ethic. A lot of people have the spark, but they lack the work ethic and that’s something Joey strives in.”
Not only is Spinelli working with Hill, but he has also teamed up with long-time friend and videographer Ted Cole of Ted Cole Productions (TCP), also based out of Maine. Together they have produced a total of three music videos including “Rain Dance,” “The Recipe” and “The Anthem,” with “Rain Dance” being the very first video Spinelli has ever done, released in early 2014. Spinelli has also worked with one other videographer and close friend Zachary Greaton of Zachary Greaton Productions (ZGP), to produce a fourth video “28 Grams.” When it comes to deciding what songs to create into videos, Spinelli says he picks the songs that stand out to him the most, ones that have messages in which he can display visually.
“In this time it is very important to have music videos, and it’s very important for your audience to see you and be able to connect with you,” Spinelli said. “People would rather watch a video than just hear a sound link.”
All of Spinelli’s music videos can be found on Youtube as well as on various social media sites. Other than working in the studio and producing music videos, Spinelli has another whole part to his music career and that’s performing onstage live. At age 18, Spinelli did his first live performance at Social 24, a nightclub located in Manchester, where he opened up for big-time NYC rapper Papoose. There were around 100 people there that night, and being only 18 and never having done a live performance before, Spinelli didn’t know what to expect.
“It’s completely different. In the studio you just have to focus on getting your words across and making them clear speaking with a better like tone with a catchier voice, but for a show you gotta be really hype, get the crowd feelin’ what you’re saying. I was wicked nervous my first time, but right when I got on stage it was like I was doing what I had been practicing doing for four years,” Spinelli said.
Since the Papoose opener, Spinelli has done around seven live performances all around the Portland, Maine area, and is always looking for the opportunity to do more. He’s on all the social networking sites; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram doing everything possible to spread his work, whether it’s introducing friends from other places to his music or physically going into stores and passing out tapes.
“If I stay active through the use of all sorts of media while continuing to make my music, good things will happen,” Spinelli said.
Childhood friend Matt Fischer has been best friend’s with Spinelli since grade school. Growing up down the street from each other, the two boys would always be over at each other’s houses hanging out on the weekends and going on crazy adventures. Fischer could see Spinelli’s potential from day one.
“I always knew that he would pursue something in music, especially since his parents are both talented and musically inclined,” Fischer said. “Back in the day in middle school, he was always the only one who could rhyme doing silly little raps which were always really good. I think he’s come a long way since then with his music and he’s been doing really great.”
With all the current progress that Spinelli has made so far, he’s planning to take his rapping career to the next level. In the fall, Spinelli will be relocating to attend the Full Sail University of entertainment, media, and the arts, where he will be studying music production located in Winter Parks, Florida. There, Spinelli will be rooming with a friend who is going to school for video production.
“We will basically be able to do our homework off of each other,” Spinelli said.
Spinelli continues to give his passion for rapping and the music business everything he’s got, getting closer to achieving his dream every single day. Staying passionate about his work and being dedicated to the music is how everyone knows J. Spin, spreading the name for all to hear. J. Spin, the 19-year-old from Wells, Maine, looking for his chance in the music industry.
“I’m going to be a music producer,” Spinelli said. “My goal is to make it in the music business and if this takes me to that level then I’m all for it, I’m just trying to give people some good music. Let my music be heard.”