On his latest single “Lavender Chunk,” MC-producer Scallops Hotel covers all manners of ground while standing still. His chosen beat–a short synth phrase over an even shorter drum loop–cycles slowly upon itself, slightly lopsided; we’re given but one small musical idea (albeit a good one), and from its cramped quarters we’re stuck, looking outward as Scallops and guest Hemlock Ernst rap about past exes, deep brainstorm sessions, and impending death. Yes, “Lavender Chunk” packs in a lot, lyrically, and so its flowing, concise production is a blessing. It holds us down.
Scallops Hotel also goes by another name–Milo, and has been carving out a place for himself in the Los Angels rap and production scenes for years. As an MC, working in Hellfyre Club with the likes of Nocando and Open Mike Eagle, Milo (real name Rory Ferreira) was known for laying on dense verses almost bursting at the seams with ideas, broad concepts, and wordy zingers. But with sampler and keyboard in hand, Scallops Hotel is a different animal. “Beatmaking has gotten to a point now where it’s rappers competing for attention with the instrumental, and so the way that I approach it is, I’d say, classic. It’s very simple,” Ferreira told Okayplayer. “It’s about what would make for the best environment for rap.” The Scallops Hotel sound draws influence from the early work of Serengeti and Japanese beatmaker Bun, and is strong but reined in in its style. Ferreira really does intend to make beats that at all times serve their overlying raps, and that philosophy is clearly at work on “Lavender Chunk.”
Running around Los Angeles’s multiple hip-hop parties, such as Low End Theory and Beat Team Supreme, has given Scallops plenty to mull over in his own work. “The sound right now is very complicated and has layers upon layers, effects upon effects. I just really wanted to rebel against that.” His new single is a single drum loop, augmented by two synthesizer lines, nothing more. It repeats without fail, a clear nod to “93 Til Infinity,” and yet seems to somehow build with every go-round. It’s hypnotic. Opening vocals from Hemlock Ernst (the newfound rap name of Future Islands’s electrifying frontman Samuel Herring) set the scene before Scallops himself nails the second verse before closing with an Aceyalone nod. “‘Brothers like me don’t live too long’–I love that line,” Scallops said. “I wanted to take it and make it a hook. When I was writing ‘Lavender Chunk,’ it was on my mind like a chant, and once it fit in I knew I was done.” Okayplayer is proud to present the premiere of Scallops Hotel’s “Lavender Chunk”; listen to it below, in all its sprawling simplicity.