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Spencer Jackson pursuing career in favorite genre

August 15, 2010|By EBONI JAGGERS
  • Hagerstown native Spencer Jackson hopes to have his first hip-hop album released this fall.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer,

To watch "Hub City State of Mind," go to http://www.youtube.com./watch?v=hzcUN7MDFVY




Bright lights gleaming onto the stage, crowd blaring - it's a familiar territory Spencer Jackson calls home.

Jackson, 30, has been working toward making his childhood dreams a reality for most of the past two decades, and now his hard work seems to be paying off.

By age 9, Jackson knew he wanted to be a star.

A native of Hagerstown, Jackson grew up with hip-hop music.

He said hip-hop was gaining popularity as he grew, and artists such as LL Cool J, Run-DMC and Doug E. Fresh were just beginning to make names for themselves.

Influences like these, Jackson said, inspired him to make the first steps to pursuing music as a career.

He began his journey writing, paying close attention to his influences and emulating them. He was trying everything he knew to generate success.

By middle-school age, Jackson was dominating the percussion section of his school's band.

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He said it was this lesson in rhythm that defined every reason he had ever given himself for wanting to become a hip-hop artist.

"Definitely learning to play an instrument was crucial..." Jackson said. "That taught me how to compose my own music. Without that music experience, I wouldn't have caught on to (producing)."

And produce he did.

Soon Jackson would be able to purchase instrumental versions of his favorite songs.

"By seventh or eighth grade I got a little more money and I could buy instrumentals on cassette tape," he said. "I could start putting together some real songs."

Jackson recalls this age being a pivotal moment in line with his career. His faith had always stood as a statue within his life and success - no matter how great - would ever change that feeling.

As the years progressed, Jackson's drive remained unsheltered. The stagnant state of his career only added that much more fuel to his fire.

Fast-forward to 2009, Jackson is now a husband to his partner of more than a decade, Mari, and a father to their three children.

Then came the offer of a lifetime. Rich Daughtridge, founder and president of High Rock Studios in downtown Hagerstown, was preparing to launch a campaign that would revamp Leitersburg Cinemas, north of Hagerstown.

Both Jackson and Daughtridge attended LifeHouse Church East, which meets at Leitersburg Cinemas.

To spread the word of this revitalization, Daughtridge recruited Jackson to write, produce and perform a song, which would be a parody on the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' hit, "Empire State of Mind."

The result was "Hub City State of Mind," which included lyrics filled with landmarks familiar to Hagerstonians.

Melody Belotte, wife of former High Rock project manager Jonathan Belotte, would step in for Keys' part.

The "Hub City State of Mind" video was shot and produced by High Rock Studios within 48 hours, Daughtridge said.

The "Hub City State of Mind" would not only help to get Hagerstown's theater back on track but also showcase the talents of the town's own, Jackson said.

Jackson said by offering him this opportunity, Daughtridge helped him overcome one of his largest obstacles.

"One of the hardest things to do, being a rapper in a small town, is getting people to see your relevance," he said. "What he helped me do was gain that over night, at least in my own town."

The song, "Hub City State of Mind," he said, has become an anthem for many of Hagerstown's residents.

"I think it really brought Hagerstown together," Daughtridge said of the song.

"The song gave me a chance to open people's eyes to just say be thankful about where you're from," Jackson said.

The video for the song, produced by High Rock Studios, was released New Year's Eve 2009 and has since gotten more than 80,000 hits on YouTube.

Jackson credits the release of this song and video as his biggest break yet. With it, he was able to gain the recognition and exposure he has been seeking since being the child with hip-hop stardom dreams.

To his fans, Jackson assures them that this is only the beginning to things to come.

"This summer, watch for more promotional videos to be released of the same quality but increasing in originality," he said.

Now signed to Tate Music Group, out of Mustang, Okla., Jackson anticipates an album to be released in the fall.

Jackson has high hopes for his career.

"Five years from now I definitely see myself in some fashion being successful because of music," he said. "I don't know what level, but I definitely see music being able to pay a career role as well as a passionate pursuit. Me, being an artist, might be a stepping stone."

As for daring to be different, going against the grain and rapping about something other than the norm, Jackson said he has that covered.

"I have more in mind with my music than just entertainment," he said. "Hopefully, it'll be just as good to the heart as it entertaining. Hip-hop is what it is. If you have something to offer then offer it, and that's what I'm doing."

To see the video

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