Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp was a game-changer for 2012. Not just because of the lo-fidelity of many of the tracks—a refreshing change from the clean production values prevalent in many rap productions, and a nice reminder of the cassette-based underground hip-hop of the early-mid ’90s. Nor for the beats or rhymes themselves, though much was made of their claustrophobic, sinister and hypnotic nature. It was the album’s release on the legendary 4AD that made people sit up and go “Holy christ”. It was a sub-mainstream legitimizer for Purrp, an insertion of something new into ears more accustomed to Cocteau Twins than DJ Screw. Purrp’s latest release, the B.M.W. EP, was dropped for free on DatPiff a few days ago, and while the hypnotism of Mysterious Phonk is still there, it’s cleaner, leaner, and presents a very promising look at things to come.
Unlike the gradually-apparent WTFness of A$AP Rocky (Skrillex collab? Honestly…) the clean-up job is non-obtrusive—you never feel as though Purrp is reaching for mainstream success the way Rocky does. B.M.W. feels more honest: Purrp doesn’t rap about his wardrobe or his connections (outside of his beloved Raider Klan, of course), preferring instead to focus on typical hip-hop tropes. None of the themes here—pussy-poppin’ strippers, iced grills, up in the club etc—break any new ground, but that’s not the point. The strength here is in the production, the pitched-down and altered voices, the drilling 808s and grim, grimy trunk-rattling bass that wouldn’t feel out of place at your local industrial party. Purrp’s flow is at its best here, at times seeming to lunge out of the shadows to whisper in your ear while at others (“How She Moan” in particular) it’s undercut with a gleeful evil, skipping across blown-out beats.
The EP focuses mainly on Purrp himself, but there’s a few collabs with other members and affiliates of the Klan; “No Trouble” feature’s Nell‘s youthful, brash spit, Purrp’s voice gliding underneath like a cloaked killer, and “Rep Dhat”, featuring DoughDough, feels almost anthemic: “We the darkside, fuck what you gon’ say” was basically my coda from youth. The EP’s final track, an eight minute showdown between Purrp, Simmie, DoughDough, Chris Travis and Ethelwulf, features perhaps the least-interesting production…something of a surprise considering how many of the names here are Klan heavy-hitters. Yet even the weakest track here is worth listening to, which is a testament not only to the production skills of Purrp, but to the weight these Raiders carry in their voices.
I recently watched a fascinating video about the influence of the Illuminati and goth in hip-hop, as well as the music industry as a whole. If there’s any sort of fact present in such a documentary, and if SpaceGhostPurrp and his contemporaries are the result, then let me be the first to raise a hearty cup of drank (actually a Slurpee I put vodka in) to our new dark overlords. As far as New World Orders go, this one fits me just fine.
Published December 19, 2012. Words by Daniel Jones.