All of my life, my father encouraged me to be open to all good music," St. Louis rapper Black Spade sings on the intro to his debut album, To Serve with Love. On his MySpace page, he reaffirms his dad's influence on this genre-defying new work, describing the sound as "like music my old dude would listen to when he used to smoke weed and play chess." As vague as that description is, it captures the spirit of To Serve with Love, a lyrically sentimental but imaginative introduction to Spade's musical taste.
On the album we get electronic, synth-fueled tunes ("To Serve with Love [Intro]," "Evil Love"), soul tracks ("Actioneer," "As We"), and songs that fall more into the realm of traditional hip-hop, such as "Good Crazy" and "Where I'm Coming From." One hears the influence of Soul Tyde — the St. Louis crew known for its blend of soul, rap, and R&B that Spade was a part of for years — as well as the Kraftwerk, Radiohead, and J Dilla music he was listening to while he honed his production talents. Spade, in fact, made all the beats here, and they're compelling. Surely pops is proud.