Chicago rapper and SaveMoney affiliate Joey Purp returns with his sophomore solo mixtape iiiDrops; a gritty, distorted aural trip on Purp’s unending search for truth in a world overshadowed with pain and loss.
Blaring horns and a booming bassline burst into existence at the first second of iiiDrops‘s opening track “Morning Sex.” Joey Purp saves little time for introduction and jumps straight into reflecting on his conflicting life in the first hook. “Uh, I done been on both sides of the burner, I’ve done witnessed both sides of the murder,” Purp raps with an emotional delivery that only intensifies throughout the tape. The lofty horns whine over hard-hitting drums, matching pace with Purp’s smooth flow and the ominous voices wailing in the depths of the production.
What really makes iiDrops a standout release of 2016 is that this man, Joey Purp, has some things to say. Purp tempestuously expels emotions hidden in the dark corners of cracked Chicago streets and his own stained psyche. Introspective lyrics shed light onto the issues that plague his environment and the deep impact they have on his personal life. “When I’m Gone” is one of the more emotionally driven tracks on the mixtape. Through the song’s five verses, Purp explores the dark realities of modern life, everything from domestic troubles to the failure of the political system. The track ends with Purp wondering how he will be remembered after his death, and assuring the listener that in the event he dies too young, he will always live through the lines of his verses.
While iiiDrops contains some of the most conscious subject matter released this year, there is a playful side to this mixtape that serves as a breath of fresh air between sinking down to the murky depths filled with violence and desperation. “Girls @” features a lighthearted verse from Chance the Rapper with a bubbly, perky beat that sticks out from the rest of the production on the album. “Kids”, a futuristic mixture of crunchy, distorted 808s and autotune, is another outlier in the tracklist. Purp’s voice is auto-tuned in a style that harkens similarities to Travi$ Scott, while keeping his own disposition and remaining present within the tempo change. However, “Photobooth” – the most polarising cut on the tape – is one of the most ear-grabbing tracks of the year, with Purp spitting hard bars over some enormous percussion and filter-crushed, squealing samples that sound almost like two startled elephants fucking to a drum break.
While it’s hard to pick highlights out of this impressive 11 track mixtape, but “Cornerstore” and “Money & Bitches” are both more than noteworthy. “Money & Bitches” is the third track on the mixtape and features Mick Jenkins. Both Mick and Purp flow over a smooth jazzy beat with eagerness and potency. Mick’s style fits well into the track as do all of the features on iiiDrops. On “Cornerstore” Saba and theMIND accompany Joey Purp on a journey through memory lane, back to their childhood in Chicago, eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and finding revolvers in their closets. Saba and Purp both sound as if on the verge of tears, intensifying the nostalgia for childhood and the cry for an escape from the harsh realities of an unforgiving adult life.
Overall, iiiDrops is a solid mixtape that showcases Joey Purp’s talents as an artist, and establishes the rapper as a voice to be heard. While the production can get repetitive throughout some tracks and a few seem to disrupt the flow of the mixtape, these downfalls are overshadowed by the fiery lyricism and emotional tone throughout, leaving Purp with room to grow while proving himself to be on par with his SaveMoney contemporaries.
Stream iiiDrops below.
Though not without flaws, Joey Purp’s latest effort is his most confident and thoughtful, and serves as his most memorable work to date.