Dance music and rap hybrids are pretty much inescapable at this point, but mixing the two was still a daring concept when rapper/producer/party-starter Naeem Juwan (a.k.a. Spank Rock) first hit the scene nearly a decade ago. “I think maybe I was ahead of the curve because I’m okay taking risks,” he says. “A lot of people don’t like to take risks. People like to do things that are easy. I feel like maybe I’m a bit different.”
While it’s taken a while for the dance-rap movement Juwan helped lay the foundation for to fully bloom, his skills are still as sharp as they were when he first started blowing up clubs. Two months ago he released the fiery track “Assassin” with fellow club-rap vet Amanda Blank, which will appear on his new The Upside EP, out Dec. 9 on his own Bad Blood Records.
Its latest single is “12 O’Clock Boys” (produced by Philly beat maker Noah Breakfast), inspired by Juwan’s Baltimore roots and the documentary of the same name about the city’s unique motorcycle culture. “It has the feeling of a Baltimore club break,” he says. “I always think about Baltimore when I sit down to write. It’s such a wild, crazy place. I just kinda wanted to think about some of the friends I lost back home and think about youth culture in Baltimore and try to write something that was—I don’t know. I just wanted to write something about that.”