You know when someone derisively describes something as “tumblr rap”? (You’re reading Passion of the Weiss, so of course you do.) What they usually mean is that the music, tumblr rap, is very stylish without actually being good. Earlier this year I might have begrudgingly lumped Spark Master Tape into the tumblr rap category. But with his latest tape, The SWOUP Serengeti, it’s safe to say that Spark Master has transcended such trendy and trite labels.
Within moments, SWOUP careens and dives from joyful to foul to ominous to ecstatic. On this second mixtape, the formal qualities of the music – air horns, rattling bass, witchhouse chants, pitch shifted vocals – are less affect than art. In 2013, Spark Master Tape and Paper Platoon have managed a rare feat: creating a tight, thematically consistent, highly engaging piece of music that avoids the ‘socially conscious’ label without veering so far into depravity.
Over the last week, I connected with Spark Master Tape via email. Here are the results. – B. Michael Payne
What can you tell me about your background? Where are you from, what have you been doing with yourself other than, you know, rapping?
What up fam, good look on the interview and support, Paper Platoon Salute. Shit aint much to tell you. Born in the ocean, grew up in the sewers and now we sprinklin your lawns. Spark is from the Deep Blue Sea, the part right before Samuel L. Jackson gets murked by that shark. Aint been doing shit, just trying to beat this level on Punch-Out and this pending case. Got some fire-alarm and Oreos on the way for later tho.
Fill me in on the Paper Platoon thing. Is it a group, a collective, what? How does the division of labor take place: is there one producer, one rapper, some other dudes like Mike Tyson and KAI Skywalker? What’s the group makeup like?
Paper Platoon is a producer, however Paper Platoon is also the name of the collective. We got DJ Motherfukkin’ Charlie Chicken Soup hosting the tapes and Hedj Banga making most of the visuals. Most Platoon members don’t do music tho, they just do lines and wait around the local corner store for old ladies and college students. We try n run shit on some military movement type shit but Chicken Soup be leavin his work around gettin the entire squad SWOUPED up on a regular. We fucks with Tyson heavy, he a customer. Skywalker is fam, he definitely extended Platoon but he ain’t directly a part of it. A few features and loyalty, no more. Shout out to Dat Nigga NUG.
The new mixtape has its share of darkness (“Wanye Kest”), but it seems overall to be a bit brighter, more upbeat than Syrup Splash. Like, that “Spokken Moonshine” is just amazing, fire, and sort of low-key upbeat for being about dead bodies.
Feel like this tape more on that Summer bullshit, is harder to conceal that toolie in shorts and a beat. The winter is around the corner tho, this future tape already startin to sound like #SWOUPED up toilet water. Much appreciated on “Spokken Moonshine”. When it comes to writin shit to tracks its really how I feel that day/week, when Platoon ran that instrumental I couldn’t help but go through my fukking phone book looking for RIP to call.
Who are your, I guess, rap heroes? I noticed the Phaycyde sample. It seems like the production is really big and shiny (but still a little gritty), like that MBDTF Kanye.
Motherfukkin Coolio. Coolio the don.
What’s your process like for making beats? How many beats do you make a week/month/whatever? Do you ever think about rapping with other producers or people?
Paper Platoon makes all the beats; he swoups up a chemical cocktail, rolls 3 magic carpets and throws up on his MPC/Pentium II. Platoon works the most tho, he bust out 5–7 beats every week and spend his nights watchin 1940’s Russian cinema lookin for dope vocal samples. He mad experienced with Acid. 7.0.
I’m def. down to work with other producers, had 2 guest producers on Syrup Splash (Juyen Sebulba and Astor). So if the beats is live enough, ill fucks with you. In terms of rappers, we try n keep the feature list small, we aint say shit anyways.
How did you get to the obviously “Houston” style, the pitch shifting, the focus on those drugs, etc.?
The focus on drugs comes naturally to the Platoon. The Houston style is so you motherfukkers don’t die digesting it.
Would you break down your songwriting thought process a little bit: what I mean is how do you come up with topics and themes for you songs? What are the sorts of things that preoccupy you, take up mindspace?
Amber Row. SWOUP kettle goodie bag. The Paper Platoon Deep Ocean Chapter. Guyanese Dollars. Fukk what I aint mention.
What was the process like putting this tape out with Mishka? Do you have any bigger plans, ie major label aspirations? What’s the end game here?
Paper Platoon Salute to Mishka man. Been cold, L’Amour kilt that cover. They been pushin that SWOUP ever since they peeped “Syrup Splash”. Platoon plans shit we jus buyin bigger wallets meng. We bout to get 5 outta 5 robo mics on this nex joint.
Any final words or thoughts for your fans/the audience here?
We the seasons, we the winter. #SWOUP