Spark Master Tape (SMT) calls his goons to action. Backed by cinematic horns, Paper Platoon and their general, SMT, announce their presence in the hip hop world. For the next 40 minutes they take you on a trip to the dark streets they grind on and the dizzying heights they strive for, travelling through the twisted corridors of SMT’s mind.
In the opening track we hear this advice for new artists. “Respect the craft.” With SMT’s display of witty lyrics, dexterous flows and the many references to rappers past, it is evident that he has been following this advice. In a similar vein to MF DOOM, SMT stays anonymous, hoping to be judged on the quality of his music rather than his race, appearance, the way he wears his pants or smokes his weed. Spark Master Tape uses voice modulation throughout the project, deepening his voice (a la Captain Murphy). His deep voice adds a sinister, threatening aspect to his music. At times he sounds otherworldly, while, at others, more underworldly.
With accomplished flows and clever wordplay, SMT is never boring. He has moments of incredible reflection in “Spokken Moonshine”, revisits the story of his brother’s death in “Charlie’s Episode” and describes his sexual conquests in “Tina Tuna.” Regardless of topic, SMT’s character and intelligence always shine through and are large parts of the rapper’s appeal.
Half of the praise should be directed at Paper Platoon, the production team behind this tape. With polished varied production ranging from the dark synth-led “Pinata” to the melodic, colorful vocal samples in “All I Know”, The Platoon can cover all bases, and cover them well. Their abstract sample selection like the Hotline Miami sample in “Castles & Towers” and their deployment of such samples contributes to the eclectic sound of the project. Paper Platoon can hardly be accused of derivation and instead created an interesting, progressive soundscape for Spark Master Tape, taking trap music completely left-field of its typical avenue.
Should you listen to The #SWOUP Serengeti? Definitely. The project may be half a year old, but, since then, no mixtape in hip hop has sounded as fresh and exciting. The Platoon’s next tape, Silhouettes of a Sunkken City has been announced but the release date has yet to be revealed. Hopefully that will be the push needed for the Platoon to receive a lot more shine. For now check out The #SWOUP Serengeti on Bandcamp and get excited.