Speed One is not bitter.
Sure, he's part of Albuquerque's early gen hip-hop, among the first in the 505 to record original material and promote local shows.
Sure, he was a member of Small Town Desert Funk Mob in ’96 alongside the now-famous Xzibit, who lived with Speed as the two finished their trek through Cibola High School. And though Xzibit dropped the "A" from his handle (it stands for Alvin) just like he dropped Albuquerque, Speed wishes him the best. "I'm content with what I'm doing," he says. "I get in where I fit in."
Speed opened for Busta Rhymes when he passed through town with Leaders of the New School. More recently, he opened for Method Man and Dan the Automator. And still, he's plugging away in Burque; working at three studios, writing songs for musicians of all types, running Speed's Skateboard Shop and Accessories at 115 Seventh Street, where his old battered boards hang over the door and his graf art adorns the walls. "It doesn't burn me," he says. "The heads in the city know what I've done. I've never once thrown a stone at anybody for not helping me. I believe in karma."
Speed's sitting in the tiny office of the shop he opened in June, the headquarters of his operation that extends well beyond designing decks and promoting local and touring artists—even beyond hip-hop. He decided to dip into punk rock about a year ago, and started a project called The Incoming with members of Icky and the Yucks and Bobby Baca of Smug fame. On one wall in his office is a picture of 2Pac. On the other, it's Jello Biafra.
Though some are reluctant to let him into the punk scene because of his hip-hop roots and though he's heard hip-hop kids trashing punk, he doesn't feel the genre divide he straddles. They're from the same cloth, he says—underground, antigovernment and anticorporate.
"I've always been a frontman. I've always been the dude to stand with a microphone." As Speed's mom often said, he has the gift of gab, whether in his solo work, fronting The Incoming or hosting shows. And you can't worry about what people are going to think of you. That's one lesson his years on Albuquerque's scene taught him. "If you let people get in the way, that's exactly what they're going to do. They're going to get in the way."
He's an old head, he acknowledges. He talks about previous work, like the crew Empty Pockets, one of the first to pull together kids from all over the city who were serious about recording work and playing live. "I just dated myself," he laughs. His last solo effort, Crazed Life, came out in 2003. KRS-One will be featured on his next disc, due out next summer.
He's worked with his heroes. He's a link between local heads and touring heads. He's kept a good name for himself in his hometown. "That's why I'm not mad at people who have already come out of our city. Because you know what, man? I am fulfilling my little dream."
See Speed One open for Kev Lee and The Uprising Band with Cheops, DJ Halcyon and Outrage on Thursday, Dec. 28, at the Launchpad. 21+. Tickets are $4.