Scoundrel Spence Goes Ham (Sammich)

The track “Ham Sammich” is a collaborative effort between rapper Scoundrel Spence, and his longtime friend and rapper/producer combo, GeNreal. Together the two have released what they consider to be their most important project to date, which is an album called “Doodles in School.” It makes for their third collaborative album, and the two delve into a more vulnerable, message-driven headspace for this one. Scoundrel Spence is the principal writer and MC for the record, and GeNreal produces the beats. Both artists hail from the Twin Cities, though GeNreal is originally out of New Hampshire, near The Dream Machine studio in Bethlehem, NH, where the album was recorded.

On the track “Ham Sammich,” off their 2019 album, “Doodles in School,” Scoundrel Spence serves as the vocalist. He sounds a lot like Kendrick Lamar in terms of his quirky, highly intonated vocal quality. His cadence follows that of a typical ScHoolboy Q track (think, “Numb Numb Juice”) and there’s even a little bit of Mac Miller in his vocal tonality. But, to be clear, this would have to be Mac Miller at his best. No disrespect to the late MC, but Scoundrel could rap circles around Miller. With real lyricism at play here, Scoundrel gives us a lot to love. His ornate and thoughtful rhyming is masterfully written and performed, and with multisyllabic rhyme schemes and perfectly repeating cadence, it becomes quickly apparent that Scoundrel is an MC’s MC. The rapping on the bridge is especially worth noting.

The beat for this song, produced by GeNreal, is a work of art in its purest form. It reminds me of one of my favorite works of song production of all time, the song “Ghetto Symphony” by A$AP Rocky, featuring Gunplay. Both incorporate what I can only assume are sampled licks of a classical overture, and integrate it seamlessly into a more modern soundscape. The song “Ham Sammich” was produced by GeNreal, who you might know from the Hamburger Helpers viral mixtape, “Watch the Stove,” circa 2016. This viral mixtape was where GeNreal gained a lot of notoriety, garnering over a million views for his feature songs “Food for Your Soul,” which has reached over six hundred thousand views on SoundCloud, as well as “She’s in Love,” which got around six hundred twenty thousand views. The production in this song is intricate and well executed.

The track opens up with the swelling sounds of sampled strings, taken from an old piece of classical music. As someone who has tried to incorporate classical pieces in my songs before, I can tell you first hand how difficult it is to make that work in the production. The beat is well balanced, but missing some of the classic identifiers of modern hip hop, like layered bass in the low end. But the song isn’t hurting for it and just escapes sounding old as a result. In this case, however, the track feels modern enough and stands firmly on the pillars of solid production and exceptional vocal runs. The production uses knocking drums, and in the hook section, it incorporates a muffled high hat, which is a welcome reprieve from all the countless trap inspired songs that have saturated the market lately, each having those incessant trilling high hats at breakneck bpms. I definitely welcome this return to original form. However, the drum pattern drops somewhat randomly on the hooks, being a little bit different in each one. This is an interesting effect, but I believe it would be better employed in the verse sections, as, traditionally, the hook is not the place to skip out on uniformity. Still, this production bares all the hallmarks of a talented and accomplished producer. GeNreal considers himself to be a student of his craft, working tirelessly to perfect it. That is something I can’t say enough good things about.

This well-suited duo of MC and Producer make for a winning combination. Clearly, they work very well together, and it’s always great to see a producer and an MC who work closely together in concert on multiple projects. Almost nothing is lacking here. The lyricist and rapper, Scoundrel Spence, gives us the infectious intonations of Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q, and the intricate lyricism that hip hop is profoundly hurting for as of late. The producer, GeNreal, is highly accomplished and extremely talented, and there is no doubt he will make a noteworthy career for himself in production alone. Also, having heard him rap while trolling his social media, I was surprised at how gifted an MC he is. These two could go far together, and I really think that, for them, it’s more a matter of when than a matter of if. They both clearly have a passion for what they’re doing, which goes a long way in this industry. They have a message to give the world and have chosen the perfect platform for delivering it. With these two on the cusp of greatness, I think we are all just waiting to see what they do next.

Whatever it is, if it has these two at the helm, it will almost certainly be great.

-ERINEM

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