SpaceGhostPurrp: Hip Hop’s Dark Angel

purrp

In the early 2010’s, the hip hop community saw a handful of rappers and producers that would go on to greatly influence the next decade of rap. Arguably the most important among them, despite not being nearly the most popular, was SpaceGhostPurrp. Working as both rapper and producer, Purrp was able to craft his own style while building on what his predecessors had left behind. Over the years, his reach has gone as underground as cult legends like Lil Ugly Mane and as mainstream as some of the biggest names in the last five years like XXXTentacion.

SpaceGhostPurrp from the thumbnail of the “Terror Gang” music video.

Purrp’s Raider Klan collective (often stylized as RVIDXR KLVN) began to create buzz after the release of his Blackland Radio 66.6 mixtape. Borrowing from the Memphis horrorcore rappers of the 90’s — such as Three 6 Mafia and Graveyard Productions — while still adding his own twist, the mixtape showcased both Purrp’s unconventional production and his aversion to being associated with his hip hop contemporaries on tracks like “F*** Taylor Gang (Not a Diss We Are Just Not D***riders)”. The mixtape and its lofi style would establish Purrp’s sound and influence the next wave of upcoming underground rappers. Despite his indisputable talent, it would be this aversion that would go on to create problems for him in the future.

 

After initially creating a friendship and collaborative relationship with fellow rapper A$AP Rocky and his A$AP Mob around the time of the mixtape — producing a handful of Rocky’s early songs — Purrp went on to quickly cut ties, despite the group’s rising status (and perhaps even because of it). It seemed that many of the artists he crossed paths with developed a love-hate relationship with him. This unique kind of relationship is best shown in praise received from the likes of Denzel Curry, Ski Mask the Slump God and XXXTentacion, all of whom took part in a 2016 diss track directed at him.

SpaceGhostPurrp and A$AP Rocky, before their falling out.

His antisocial behavior combined with his outspoken desire to remain “underground” are widely believed to have been the only things keeping him from rising to the levels of those he influenced. It’s easy to see why many believe this when his Raider Klan partner Denzel Curry is now one of hip hop’s biggest names while Purrp’s fame has stagnated since the Raider Klan years.

 

The opportunity for a career in the mainstream presented itself most prominently for Purrp with his signing to the 4AD record label; an odd choice considering 4AD was most well known for acts like The Cocteau Twins or St. Vincent, but this was still seen as an important move if his career was to go to the next level. However, Mysterious Phonk — his 2012 debut album and his only album to date— didn’t take him to the next level like fans expected. Many cite the album consisting almost entirely of reworked songs from previous mixtapes as one reason why the album might not have done as well as it could have. Though this can’t be confirmed, the edge lost on certain songs — such as the reworked version of “Been Fweago” — is apparent to those familiar with his old work.

The peculiar thing about Purrp’s career is that his rise in the underground wasn’t followed by a fall into obscurity, but rather by a continued streak of creativity that has shown little signs of slowing down. Even after the many beefs and the lackluster response to his record label debut, Purrp never missed a step musically. Returning to his gritty style that brought him his original acclaim, the mid-2010’s saw the release of cutting-edge EP’s like Dark Angel and Larry Bird Season, as well as enough loosies to give way to fan compilations and archives of this and his other eras.

In the last few years, Purrp has almost seemed to make an effort to become even more elusive: making his music less accessible with each release (both musically and in terms of actually finding it), offensive rants on social media, and little to no promotion for his music. There have still been a handful of high points in this time, though, like the reuniting of Purrp and Denzel Curry on stage during the former’s Rolling Loud 2019 set, as well as Curry paying homage to the classic era of Purrp’s music on his 2019 album, ZUU.

 

No one can be sure what lies ahead for SpaceGhostPurrp, but one thing that has always been guaranteed in the last decade has been music, with Purrp seemingly never ceasing to work on music. While we are left waiting on his next move, there is still much music still around to be appreciated.

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