By Derian Diaz
Artist: Joey Purp
Release Date: May 26, 2016
There is a lot to say about all the music that has been coming out of Chicago in the recent years. From Nico Segal and his Social Experiment, to Noname, to Eryn Allen Kane and to Chief Keef and the entire Drill Scene. Chicago is a hub for many different sounds, making it a birthing place to some of the biggest names in the artistic world and now it seems that the younger generations are ready to take over. Take for example, Savemoney, a small group of young individuals founded by rappers Joey Purp, Towkio and Kami. This “Savemoney Army” is more of a collective than a simple rap group, having people that specialize in web design, video editing, photography, and all sorts of other creative endeavors. What’s even more special about this is that they aren’t alone, because there are others, such as Pivot Gang (Saba), FreeNation Rebels (Mick Jenkins) and The Village (Alex Wiley) and that’s just scratching the surface. One thing is for certain, almost all the artists that hail from the Windy City are not to be taken lightly, and that is most obvious when talking about one artist, Joey Purp.
Joey Purp has been making noise for some time now but really captivated listeners when he gave birth to iiiDrops, which was released on May 26 of 2016 and was one of that year’s highlights. His critical acclaim landed him on some of the best rap album lists from publications like Rolling Stone and Complex. iiiDrops was clearly intended to be one of the most “Chicago” tapes of that summer, if not, that year, and judging by the names listed in the credits, he succeeded in a major way. The production ranges from Thelonious Martin, Knox Fortune and other Chicago natives. The same thing could be said about the features, which come from the likes of Saba, Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa and Mick Jenkins to name a few.
The tape kicks off with the Odd Couple-produced “Morning Sex.” Its loud and celebratory-like brass not only compliment his entire persona, it also emphasizes the importance of the lyrics that start off the song: “I done been on both sides of the burner / I done witnessed both sides of the murder”. It’s almost as if he wants you to feel that same power that comes when one is holding a firearm, yet at the same time give you the feeling of hopelessness a person might experience when coming face to face with said weapon. Don’t let that turn you off because it’s not always this grim. The very next song, “Girls @”, comes with a feature from the Kanye West protégé, Chance The Rapper. This track shows off more of his party, get-up-and-dance side and is usually a crowd favorite whenever he’s performing. The tape bounces around like this for the majority of the 45-minute listen. Going from a solemn and serious track to a more lighthearted and lively one, like some of his fellow Chicago contemporaries, such as Vic Mensa, Joey Purp has a very distinct voice that allows him to rap to the beat with a very in-your-face aggression, but also lets him sort of weave into the rhythm whenever he chooses to sing, which is most evident in a song like “Kids.” One of the highlights in the entire tape for me is “Cornerstore”, which features theMIND and Saba. This track follows Joey pondering how a child’s innocence can be taken away so easily when growing up in a place where gun violence is so prevalent. “I remember finding that revolver / I was looking through my closet trying to find my remote-control car charger”. You can feel the emotion dripping from his voice, as if it was spoken with his last breath when he talks about his brother’s incarceration (“Talking to my brother every week from off that prison phone / May never come home”).
If I could take one line out of the entire project that can describe the swagger that he seems to embody, I’d have to go with “There is not a stain on my forces but it’s a dirty game” from the track “Godbody”. When he isn’t boasting about keeping his sneakers crispy clean, he’s painting a very real and vivid picture of what it’s like for people growing up in his neighborhood, almost all in the same sentence. I think this is what makes him stand out so much from all other artists coming out of Chicago. To sum it up, it’s evident that Joey Purp isn’t slowing down on his way to the top while howling “SAVEMONEY STILL ALIVE!”