With the boisterous release of Kanye’s Life of Pablo and the dramatic unveiling of Drake’s Views, the rap genre has almost exhausted its audience with back to back A-List premieres. Independent artists like Joey Purp, however, give the rap game some peace of mind, allowing the focus to shift from a spectacle to the actual craft of making music.
A member of Chicago’s Savemoney Crew, a collective of artists that includes Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa (who are both featured on the mixtape), there is no questioning that Purp is one of the creative masterminds behind the noted rap music of today. Works like Acid Rap and Surf have put the Crew on the map, showcasing some purely thoughtful and masterfully produced work.
Joey Purp Drops iiiDrops
Purp’s second mixtape release, iiiDrops, is yet another example of this talent. There is a satisfying subtlety that comes with the mixtape, both instrumentally and lyrically.
“I done been on both sides of the burner / I done witness both sides of the murder,” opens Purp in the first track, “Morning Sex.” As he continues, trumpets blaring in the background over a heavy hip hop bassline, there is an honest pain that peeks through the gospel-like backdrop. “Tell me how you feel / I’ll show how it feel to see a homicide,” he sings, filling every crevice with a somber yet realist recount of his past experiences.
Alongside featured artists like Teddy Jackson and Mick Jenkins, Joey Purp creates a collective narrative with his peers that summarizes topics such as gentrification, marginalization, and oppression. It’s both a wake-up call and an honest critique of social issues; the understated observations that Purp makes connects the line between political and personal. Lyrics like “We grow up being neglected by our elected officials” on “Money & Bitches” reflect this, showing that iiDrops is more of a socially conscious album than viewers expect it to be.
On “Cornerstore,” Purp raps “White kids deal with problems that we never knew to bother / Arguing with they dads, we pray we ever knew our fathers,” adding yet another shock of realism to the mixtape’s content.
The album’s second to last track, “Winners Circle,” comes full circle. Featuring Vic Mensa, the track juxtaposes the lows that Purp once spoke about. “All of your problems don’t mean a damn thing / When you’re in the winner’s circle, the top feels so much better than the bottom,” sings the chorus, creating a bittersweet satisfaction in finally reaching the top.
There aren’t many albums out there that can captivate both the minds and ears of a listener, yet Joey Purp’s iiiDrops manages to do just that. While the mixtape manages to dish out some incredibly catchy industrialized beats on tracks like “Girls @” and “Say You Do,” it’s the lyrical content that really stands out.
Both outwardly critical yet subtle in observance, iiiDrops shows us that Joey Purp isn’t just another quiet bystander. He’s watching, alright, and he’s writing everything down.