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SpaceGhostPurrp - God of Black, Vol. 1

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Artist: SpaceGhostPurrp

Album: God of Black, Vol. 1

Label: self-released

Review date: Feb. 27, 2012

You can hit the turn signal to drift across practically any “lane” in hip-hop in 2012 and chances are good that SpaceGhostPurrp is already there in a midnight-colored Cadillac. The 20-year-old Miami native has recently been associated in articles with New York’s current savior du jour A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob, but he made his name mixing DJ Screw’s Houston slur with the lyrically unsubtle, grotesque Memphis lean Three 6 Mafia exemplify. His artwork gravitates between pre-teen MS Paint experiments and garish No Limit classlessness. The aesthetic is darkly gothic, and he’s recently been working to cultivate the Kenny Stabler-approved Raider Klan posse through a defined vocabulary of replacement Xs (“Raider Hieroglyphics”) and members like the lyrical Perrion and South Africa’s weirdo witch-hop XXXorSistaz; he also loves sampling Mortal Kombat and named himself after a Cartoon Network show. Even in today’s Internet-driven post-regional rap landscape, he’s among the genre’s most interesting characters.

More than any of his contemporaries (and that includes A$AP, Main Attrakionz, even Lil B), Purrp’s style relies as much on the visual as it does on the aural. Rhymes alone aren’t enough to complete the experience; without checking the cover art or traveling through innumerable YouTube videos, you’re missing out on a fundamental aspect of his persona. Purrp’s M.O. is pornographic: You can’t pin down whether it’s sickening or hilarious, but it’s vulgar and you know it when you see it.

All of that is worth keeping in mind when listening to his latest EP, God of Black, Vol. 1. In true amateur fashion, by the way, there are two versions – the first had a cross on the cover and included the indistinct “Don’t Give a Damn,” but the pink silhouette cover and different track order is the revised, official edition. God of Black is a tidy showcase of Purrp at his most consistently approachable.

If you’ve only listened to the first few NASA Underground tapes or Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6 (1991), God of Black will surprise you in its listenability. Blvcklvnd in particular was a densely aggressive, exhausting album that was nigh impossible to listen to in one sitting (and not just because the volume from one song to the next was wildly unpredictable). None of these 10 songs suffer the same fate – in fact, God of Black is notable precisely because you can hear the black magic of his beatmaking better than ever. The creepy group whistle that loops on “Mystical Maze” and the Voyager transmissions of “Suck a Dick 2012 After Party” are ample demonstrations of Purrp’s talent. His beats here sound uncluttered no matter the inspiration – even when samples start adding up (as on “Money Power Respect”), you can still make each of them out in the mix. It’s a slow surrounding, a suffocating, rather than a crushing.

The beats have been intermittently great in the past regardless of EQ, though. The notable difference here is that, for once, SpaceGhostPurrp’s bars sound settled in the spaced-out music. He’s never been a standout on the mic (“My style is similar to the magical smoke / inhaling every flow smoking magical purp / The world fucked up so I stay low key / to avoid every drama to a certain degree” and the entirety of “Mystical Maze” are painful enough examples), but his description of this tape shows he’s at ease with these strengths and weaknesses: “NOBODY NOT TRYING TO BE THE BEST RAPPER ALIVE OR LYRICAL FANCY RAPPER WITH PUNCH LINES THIS WHOLE EP IS ABOUT BEING DARK AND LAID BACK.” In other words, it’s all about already having money, power and respect.

As trite as that territory is, SpaceGhostPurrp rolls right through it with confidence. God of Black, Vol. 1 is comparatively short, but it sounds the least like a mixtape of any mixtape he’s released. He’s already earned the respect of his contemporaries and he’s got the power of a posse growing behind him – all that’s left is the money. It’s funny that in saying this is “nothing major,” Purrp sounds more ready for the big time now than ever before.

By Patrick Masterson

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