“The difficult task of enjoying the film knowing it’s a sequel
and even more difficult task of being kind to rich people
The type of man to mourn openly for a dead dog
and respond to emails ‘I don’t wanna read your fucking web blog’
Wrote a song for the kids who let me rap in their basement
Wrote a song for the kids who said I lack something basic
That’s true, I’d rather discuss Mewtwo than YouTube
So fuck you dude”
I first latched onto R.A.P. Ferreira last year and admittedly I was anywhere from a few years to almost a decade late on him. Someday he’ll be recognized worldwide for what has (right or wrong) come to be called outsider music, but he’s too busy being creative to worry about the acclaim or the fame. I think that’s what attracts people to this type of musician in the first place. We’re weary of those who chase clout constantly, who collaborate with other artists the way a tick collaborates with a dog, who tout their social media metrics and constantly flaunt their conspicuous consumption. It’s refreshing to consume music from someone who makes art because they NEED TO. Their inner world demands some form of expression in the outer world, and they are compelled to let it burst forth like a chesthugger to shock and awe anyone in range. You may love it or you may hate it, but either way it feels pure and untainted, a form of truth that exists regardless of how commercially viable it is.
The danger of outsider music becoming a genre unto itself is that this pure expression can too become corrupted. Enjoying a auteur’s low budget movie, mistakes and all, because of the charm a singular vision can have is wonderful. When a billion dollar company attempts to mimic that success with grainy footage, bad camera angles and a big budget “low key” word of mouth campaign, the charm is gone. It’s no longer so bad it’s good — it’s just bad, dude. This is the perilous dichotomy of a rapper like Ferreira. You want to be successful enough to sustain a career, but not so successful that your work becomes a manufactured formula. How does one walk that tightrope? Having alter egos helps.
“I got these stupid tattoos
to remind me of past life snafus
that left me black and blue
They still tingle when on the receiving end of bad… news
I’m on the receiving end of bad… news”
Scallops Hotel’s “Poplar Grove (Or How to Rap With a Hammer)” is a R.A.P. Ferreira album. It’s his voice, it’s his quirks, it’s everything you’d expect from him. It’s also not an easy to find album. It appears (and I could be wrong) he self-released it only on cassette and digitally. That’s besides the point. People long since figured out that Milo and Scallops Hotel were both nom de plumes for Ferreira and vice versa. He’s not pretending otherwise. He’s just refusing to be tied down to one identity. Having multiple names facilitates his ability to make self-produced raps “that are oblivious to criticism” as he says on “Karl Drogo Sighs.” This is a guy who ponders “withdrawing from verbosity” while wryly noting the act “is in itself verbose.” This is a guy who thinks about “white people becoming vegan for the wrong reasons.” If you stay at the Scallops Hotel he’s the clerk at the desk, the bellhop, the cleaning lady and the concierge.
“Poplar Grove” exists to poke holes in the pomposity of hip-hop and of R.A.P. Ferreira’s own career. He’s a seriously good rapper who doesn’t take the idea of being a famous rapper seriously at all. In saying that I acknowledge that his output can be extremely polarizing. It’s well thought out and well produced, but it’s none of the tropes of rap music that commercial artists fall comfortably into. He’s not gangster, drill, trap, wavy, boom bap, neo futuristic, conscious, avant garde or horrorcore. It’s just Ferreira slipping on the Scallops Hotels identity like a pair of comfortable gloves, doing his version of rap that’s unlike anyone else’s, then taking them off and walking away. Of course he’d distribute an album like this on a cassette tape. It’s part of the charm. I hope that charm never wears off.