It seems strange to construct an artificial binary between Spark Master Tape and someone like Yung Lean, the atonal Swede teen Tumblr minstrel. For one, they’re both being promoted by Mishka. For two, no one outside of the guys in the Houston boiler room video have much of a claim on regional heritage. We’re somewhere in the third stage of Screw homage. The second arrived a few years ago via Odd Future and then A$AP Mob. Mike G was doing chopped and screwed edits. Rocky was writing songs like “Houston Old Head.”
We’re currently at the stage where Tumblr Rap is as much a pejorative as when Charles Hamilton came through and crushed the Potemkin buildings of “blog rap.” You can take Lean, who seems to be staring at rap like he had a safari bucket hat, a pair of Ikea binoculars, and a jug of Arizona Iced Tea (Lil B as the spirit guide). Or you can listen to people who don’t use chopped and screwed as a way to buy into “the culture,” but as a production technique. Spark Master Tape has obscured his identity thus far — a technique that proved effective for his aesthetic a-like Captain Murphy. We’re supposed to be running an interview with Tape soon, but the Mishka guys don’t even know his name or where he lives. Good for him. It’s a bit of gimmick, but so is almost everything else on the Internet. Besides, it allows his music to actually be about the music — and not the 4532nd acarpous conversation about whether or not the appropriation is legitimate. Do you honestly give a fuck? Or are you just looking for music that you can jam?
The video for “Half of Nepal” is both ominous and funny. There are sheep being butchered, but then there is a “he’s the best” quote from “DJ Chalid.” I assume Chalid is the low-budget Hadassim equivalent of Miami’s favorite success-suffering bachelor. Spark Master’s use of the screw technique reminds me of the way that guys like Peaking Lights and Forest Swords used dub. It’s to slow it down and create a woozy feel. It makes the vocals deeper and fits into the whole mysterious vibe that he’s trying to project. And while it’s easy to be cynical about the whole thing, songs like “Charlie’s Chicken Soup: Wayne Kest” have a bizarre blood on the tracks pathos and stoner humor that sets them apart from every other peer trying to do the same thing. In short: it is creative. It’s not about the tools, but what you do with them.
Spark Master’s tape drops tomorrow. It’s called Swoup Serengeti. I will drink to it, but I won’t tell you what’s in the cup. It doesn’t matter.
Stream: (H/T Steady B)