"That song makes me want to join a gang." That is my usual one sentence description of Spark Master Tape. The average spectator of the rap scene would take that statement as a negative one, but just as Tarantino movies 'glorify' violence this is actually an endearing way to describe it. Not saying joining a gang is a positive decision in your life, but it's a testament to the music Spark is putting out to evoke that kind of thought. At the same time, I'm obviously not joining a gang from listening to an artist, just as I'm not going out killing faceless goons like any Hollywood action movie. No, the point of 'wanting' to join a gang from listening to Spark is merely respect to his craft and emitting a feeling that was probably intended by him.
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To quote Mass Appeal's Adrianna Albert "Spark Master Tape's music is scary as shit." Not necessarily a perfect way to describe his music, but there is a point there. I've mentioned Spark in articles before, but if you don't know Spark Master Tapes 'gimmick' is the use of pitching his vocals extremely low and keeping his identity a complete secret. There are obviously some speculations to his true identity, and one example may actually hold some truth, but do yourself a favor and listen to his music completely oblivious to who people think Spark actually is. Today I'll be divulging the details of Spark Master Tape's music and his fandom.
Sparks Music has been extremely active this past year, before that he released two mixtapes between 2012 and 2013 with several singles in between, but basically fell off the face of the Earth until early 2016. Like I said before Sparks main shtick is using dark, grimy beats with low pitched vocals. The production is high tier in comparison to music being put out recently with the use of heavy sampling in his beats. Produced by the infamous Paper Platoon (also anonymous) which is also the name of his hardcore fan base. Early work by Spark Master Tape was around the same level of production, but the actual rapping itself was more so used as a thematic element and not the major focus. Spark came in with sporadic, hard hitting bars (most of the time less than 16) and continued that through his major projects up until recently.
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His first two mixtapes were "Syrup Splash" and "The #SWOUP Serengeti" which are great in themselves but the years he took off from making music really increased his craft of making dark ambient music. Once Spark came back he dropped his first single "Tenkkeys" which propelled him to the best underground multimedia rapper out there, or at least I believe. The single was accompanied by a music video which put Spark in the market as making some of the most visceral videos in Hip Hop. Continuing his theme of money, drugs, and violence, Spark also started finishing his verses in full and producing content that might just move him out of the underground fandom.
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Tenkkey's video has since been removed from Spark Master Tapes page, but Livin' Lavish works to the same effect.
Spark than released "Silhouette of a Sunkken City" which is the culmination of all his work. Spark really delivers and it's really an underrated gem in the Hip Hop world. Most of the tracks are short, the other songs around 3-5 minutes in length, but as he showed in "Tenkkeys" he can really deliver the lyrics and the production which is top notch as always. Since that projects release he's remained active dropping several singles, and just as many features. I've talked heavily about this in my previous article so if you want to know more about this project check it out.
Spark has a die-hard fan base, while at the same time still remaining underground. He even mentions in his songs that his biggest fans being on a subreddit r/HipHopHeads. Spark even in his early days had this intense cult following, employing them all in his music video for "Kkaptain Baseball Bat Boi" taking in fan video submissions and cutting it all into one cohesive work and brandishing it as an official Spark Master Tape music video, and it really captures the aesthetic of the Paper Platoon. Spark's music videos have a tendency to be dark and visceral with an affinity for black and white, and only using color for a sort of main theme, those being either red or gold colors. I could write an entire piece on his music videos alone. Glorification of drugs still being a major theme, as there is a scene in the "Livin' Lavish" video of prescription pill bottles raining down on masked entities. That scene alone is all you need to know the kind of video Spark and his team make. The videos are dark, 'scary', and high energy.
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Spark has also collaborated with artists such as E-40, Too Short, Talib Kweli, and for such a 'small' following Sparks reach is incredible. The fans appreciate the anonymity and what his music brings to Hip Hop, and while possibly Spark could gain a larger fan base through advertising or releasing his identity that's anti-Spark Master Tapes music and it would possibly have the reverse effect and hurt his following. Spark will also be performing live for the first time ever at ComplexCon with the likes of Kanye West and Travis Scott. It should be an interesting performance and the Paper Platoon will be there in grooves.
Spark Master Tape brings a lot in regards to the art of Hip Hop. Through his sub-genre and his anonymity, he makes the music he wants to make without fear of his face being used as an example of deplorable music. There is no face to pour outcry upon, and what people fear more than anything is the unknown. We may never know who Spark truly is, speculations or not. So I salute Spark Master Tape, from his fan base, excellent production, visceral music videos, and intense vocals he creates a platform, unlike many others. I hope as the years go on and the more music made by him his crazy fandom increases and he gets the recognition he deserves in Hip Hop.
There are a few things I probably left out so feel free to comment and add to the conversation. For now, I'll be listening to Dave Easts new album waiting for a Hurricane to hit, so good luck to those on the East Coast.