“I’m tryna block out the possibility of being dead or going to prison anytime soon. Now it’s time to focus,” Pecks says scrunching his eyebrows to size up slabs of wood before him.
Josh Spetzman aka Pecks is standing in an Anaheim alley splashing his first strokes of paint on the rectangular piece of scrap wood. It’s a lawful shift from tagging the freeway underpasses and walls that sunk a juvenile Pecks into the grips of the Orange County legal system. The young artist (lyrical and graffiti) recently paid his debts to society and now hopes to separate from jail bars and reconnect with rap ones.
“Now it’s straight because I don't have any major adult [charges], everything’s juvenile,” he says regarding past mishaps. “I feel like it’s not too late for me.”
I insist he’s earned a bit of a fresh start
“Yup,” he concurs before the sound and smell of spray paint fills the weighted, perhaps reflective silence.
Pecks retreats back to the wooden canvas that has been one of the most the constant things in his life.
Last time we met with Pecks in 2014, he completed what was, at that time, his best-ever painted piece on the back side of those same wooden flats. He was also immersed in his second album A City Kid — a twelve track offering capturing a sometimes careless and hyperactive adolescent with an almanac full of Orange County-adjacent stories.
Now 21, Pecks is gearing up to release his next full-length project All-City Kid (out July 18 via his Soundcloud page), the more intricate follow-up and third installment of a planned quadrilogy (Angels Carry Kings swirls in an abyss awaiting conception). He dropped his first album Above Common Knowledge in 2013. Since his last album, Pecks has added an EP (12th Letter Block) and several loose singles to his catalog but also experienced more of the loss bound to opioid addiction and deaths of friends taken by drug overdoses.
Perhaps the long reach of the plague is part of what brings Pecks to saying the new project is more relatable. He cites the uptick in tragedy as part of what separates his new LP from its predecessor.
Pain and pensiveness caused by the deaths of close friends bleeds onto All-City Kid with tracks like “On God” featuring his late homie DOSER. The track begins with a voicemail from his road dog before Pecks illustrates the realities of deceased friends and others behind bars.
Words can’t solve with y’all we gone brawl
Big homies upstate, li’l homies in the hall
But what about yo moms?
She’s alone, worried sick ever since you been gone
Pecks’s ability to elude pitfalls of his environment has been mostly non-coincidental. Akin to the sturdy, painted wood canvas in the Anaheim alley, Pecks’s big homie Kenos, a well known OC graffiti artist, has outlasted the bulk of debris strewn around the northern OC locale.
“I get a lot of game from him,” Pecks says proudly of Kenos. “I see the group he came up in and he’s one of the one who’s still standing and I know he hasn’t had to do a bunch of time in prison.”
Pecks credits hanging with older homies for kickstarting his rapping endeavors. The vets also named a young Josh “Pecks”, clowning him for mobbing around the neighborhood shirtless, exposing his prepubescent chest.
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Almost ten years after picking up a moniker and around 12 years after taking his first hit of weed, Pecks seems to be refocusing for the first time. Just 21, the rapper quit drinking and other activities, cooks stir fry and chicken on the regular, and all but gave up smoking weed—most of the time.
He counts on the switch-up seeping into the music.
“Everything’s distorted when you’re going that hard — the way I was living. Now it’s more like laidback, real life, I’m able to judge what I’m saying a little more.”
Pecks’ new album All-City Kid is out July 18 on his Soundcloud.