It was fucking great. The sleeve and the mystery behind its creators led alot of people to suspect the perpetrator was Caucasian (like that would be a crime), soubriquets like 'tumblr-rap' started getting slung its way, the confusion of listeners as to whether SMT was black or white getting a whole load of hipsters' knickers in a knot. Didn't help that SMT's web presence was ghostly, fuzzy, refused to skewer reality and play the usual games of instant explication, refused to give much info beyond suggestions of a collective, that Paper Platoon was the producer (or was that just another pseudonym of SMT himself?). The music PP spun around SMT's slow-mo'd raps (all of his vocals are sluggishly drawn out to a crawl), though peppered with identifiable tropes (air-horns, trap beats, DJ-rewinds), somehow emerged as utterly unique, the utterly unplaceable samples and unique sense of genuine chaos, the way that tracks hung somewhere between sumptuous soundtrack and pure verite anti-music, the way those familiar motifs were used less to make you feel comfortable, rather to massively unsettle your concentration on the bass-heavy headnodic bliss of PP's backdrops and shapes. PP's manipulation of sound was disturbingly freewheeling, tracks slipping into pure racket, samples stretched and split until their rubbery innards spilled out. I filed 'Syrup Splash' firmly under the 'keep an eye on this guy' file, promptly forgot about it and then couldn't forget about it. It was just too pointed, too scary, too resistant to anything you might surround it with. Time went on. Still no interviews. No features. No face to put to the name, little attention paid by any of the usual places. Time went on.
Then in 2013, another tape dropped.
It was even better than 'Syrup Splash' - more kaleidoscopic, more colourful, more lyrically confrontational, more prone to give itself over to ear-razing conflations of dubbed-out wibblery and gorgeously frazzled noise-scapes (check the astonishing 'Castles & Towers') than anything else going on in hip-hop, a Houston-style heaviosity and heatstruck sense of grogginess but still, by dint of the sheer odd instinctive range of sources and the way it surged through your headspace ENTIRELY unplaceable. Who knew if PP WAS SMT, whether the 'guests' were simply more facets to SMT's schizophrenia or parts of a genuine crew? Together with the tape's release, SMT seemed to take on a little more of a web-presence, twitter, FB, soundcloud all now pumping out SMT music but still with that utter refusal to give us a photo of the person or people responsible, still absolutely refuting any attempt to be nailed to anything like a conventional physical identity or persona. Check out this 'interview' and see if you can pick a SINGLE SERPENTINE FACT out about SMT or PP or ANYONE involved. For those of us who truly sunk ourselves into the depths of 'Serengeti' this indeterminacy suited the chopped-up screwed-up nature of the music but you also got the growing sense that people are terrified that he'll turn out to be just 'some white guy from the suburbs' (as one commentator on that interview disparagingly puts it). Alot of folk put off by the lyrics also, lyrics that almost make a virtue of being unmemorable, rather another element of the druggy fucked-up psyche intent of the music.
Vapid, shallow, obnoxious - yup, so fucking what? Charmless? Absolutely not - it's SMT's exaggeration and detonation of stereotypes that makes 'Serengeti' so compelling throughout, someone clearly with a deep grounding in hip-hop creating a monstrous, menacing edifice out of all that cultural wreckage and then torching the fucking lot with a maniacal glint in his eye. Who even knew if SMT hadn't just c&p'd a whole load of accapellas and then put them in his slo-mo grinder to create the lyrics for '#SWOUP'? The sampladelic reach of PP's production throughout both mixtapes is just incredible, the connections made between disparate cultures absolutely what hip-hop should be all about. It shouldn't matter to you (and also white guys from the suburbs have made some of the greatest music ever made) - what should matter to you right now is that if you haven't heard either of the above, do so now (I'd start with 'Serengeti') because A NEW SMT MIXTAPE is gonna drop any time soon. It's gonna be called 'Silhouette Of A Sunken City' and I'm warning you now it's bound to be one of the highlights of 2014. SMT raises a hell of a lot of interesting questions - about how to make music genuinely scary, as scary as the times we live in, about anonymity, and how in a time of information overload an artist can still manage to construct an identity forged almost entirely in pure sound and word and then suck you into that identity and never exhale you back out - finally SMT dares you to let myth back in to music, dares you to outfox his own steely sense of mystique. This is a mystery I don't want solving. For as long as it can be kept intact, dive deep within SMT's universe before its imploded from without. He's either gonna self-destruct or ascend down to hell soon.