Obscurity and anonymity have always lent themselves to underground rap. One might say that Spark Master Tape is MF DOOM for the trap––instead of an amethyst-encrusted metal mask, Spark’s modus operandi is vocal-modulation and donning a ski-mask for performances. In true DOOM fashion, Spark has also been accused of using stand-ins on stage.
For the better part of the last decade, the stranger known as Spark Master Tape has been releasing filthy trap with a distinct and intriguing style of vocal-modulation that is cranked into a deep register. Committing to the vocal-modulation translates better on record than it does live, but a substantial portion of Spark Master Tape fans participate in the online mystique like it's their own virtual Juggalo gathering.
A hiatus thought to be indefinite ended in March ‘23 with The Sale of a Soul. Treated as a debut LP after a string of mixtapes, there is an apparent evolution and maturity to the lyricism and production choices across the album. Peeking out from the SoundCloud Rapper™ bonafides and releasing a refreshingly coherent thirteen-song debut LP might be what kicks off the second act of SMT’s career.
Spark Master Tape has enveloped himself in a halo of mystery, closing-in on a cocoon of anonymity. The bizarre visual aesthetics of his works, complete disregard for the canons of the industry, and a gloomy sound design have led to popularity among underground fans. The Sale of a Soul is a record that shows a devoted audience his impressive creative form via an addressing of the “raw” atmospheric sound of the trap. The work is entirely produced by the artist himself under the pseudonym Paper Platoon. Among the invited artists are the mysterious personalities ANILYST and LNNCHBXX.
The stage-setting intro is expectantly hyphy and fun without saying too much. The ghoulish second song “Kkasper” introduces the first air horns into the album, and we’re off to the races:
“It’s guaranteed I’m the meanest MC you’ve never seen.”
Early highlight on the tracklist “Stp Trippin” might just be the only song in Spark’s discography without a curse word. This speaks to the aforementioned maturation of Spark Master Tape. The club-ready-though-thoughtful lyricism on this track is a feat in and of itself.
The “Apathii (2cents Interlude)” is the most satisfying part of the album. Barely over a minute in length, the interlude is grounded-by and centered-around a sample of B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone.” This kind of production and high-level sample-clearance* illustrates the maturation that make The Sale of a Soul sound so good.
“For the Hive” is another prime example of Paper Platoon’s/SMT’s maturation. If you can believe it, SMT doesn't actually rap over any percussion for this particular trap song.
Songs such as “Frozen Ocean,” “All Night,” and “Outro” have SMT experimenting with vulnerability to pleasant results.
Ultimately, Spark Master Tape released a mission-statement of a debut LP with The Sale of a Soul. This kind of progression can be interpreted as an ascendance and is deserving of recognition.
*NOTE: As of April 27th 2023, The Sale of a Soul has been removed from digital streaming platforms and digital music stores including Amazon and iTunes.