When most middle school kids are being hijacked by the hormones that surface in form of forehead acne, crying and shy infatuations with the opposite sex, Spencer Leon was disengaged. The young athlete suddenly found himself drained of energy. He quit playing sports and spent most of his time depressed, alone in his room. For years Leon and his family did not know what was happening. “I was going down with him,” says Spencer’s mom, Julia.
It wasn’t until Spencer was 14-years-old, about four years after the first implications that something could be wrong, he had an MRI. His doctors discovered he had a brain tumor that essentially wiped out his endocrine system. He’s recovered from the tumor but still has to take daily medications and injections to regulate his hormones and has to carry an emergency steroid injection at all times. (But you wouldn’t know what the 18-year-old went though now, as Spencer has a comfortable confidence that is rare for a freshman in college.) During his brain tumor treatment, Julia applied for the Make-A-Wish foundation. “I realized I wanted something money couldn’t buy,” Spencer says. After two years of waiting, his wish came true.
Spencer, a music lover and natural performer, is a big fan of Logic, a rapper from Maryland who’s recently been recognized for a moving performance at MTV’s VMAs. “Five years ago when I was in my darkest moment, I looked up to him so much because he was so positive. I wanted to be like that,” Spencer says. In July, Spencer and his family were given the red-carpet treatment and stayed the weekend at the Palms’ 6,000-square-foot Sky Villa (“Chris Brown’s favorite suite”) complete with a rotating circle bed.
They were later escorted to Logic’s show at the Joint at the Hard Rock and Spencer was asked to go on stage and perform an impromptu verse from “Flexicution”. By the end of the song the entire crowd was chanting Spencer’s name. Julia says that Spencer is rather shy off stage and so it was a huge risk for Logic to ask him to perform, unknowing that Spencer is actually in his element in the spotlight. He later met Logic as he was enjoying an after-the-show slice of pizza in his tour bus. The two talked about their personal experiences and the rapper gave him music advice.
“I literally didn’t fall asleep until 5 a.m. because I had so much adrenaline,” Spencer says. The following day he got to tour The Studio at the Palms where he recorded his first original song “Controversy,” under his rap moniker TheSpennyWay. He says it was a surreal moment, thinking of all the artists who have been in that space before him, including hip-hop artist Cardi B, whose phone charger was still there as evidence of her recent presence.The whole experience has stayed with him as motivation to pursue a music career.
Last week during the eclipse, Spencer returned to the Palms’ recording studio to record six tracks in a four-hour session. He is working on making videos for his album that will be released on September 7 on his SoundCloud and social media accounts. And he recently submitted another original song in the The Golden Age of Rap contest that will be hosted by local hip-hop artist Dizzy Wright. The winner will be chosen September 6.
When Spencer isn’t busy trying to launch his music career, he says “I’m just going to enjoy my normal life.” A life that’s been anything but normal.