Joey Purp’s latest offering is a mixtape with a mission statement: “I need to escape now, now.” iiiDrops captures the complete panorama of the Chicago native’s hood-to-riches dichotomy, alternating between deep reflections on his upbringing, boastful references to his newfound fame, and confident pleas to be recognized amongst rap’s elite.
Opening track, “Morning Sex,” propels you right into Purp’s world without warning. Triumphant horns blast as he kicks off with the parallel, “I done seen a nigga killed, and seen a nigga kill a nigga.” Simultaneously establishing his hustler mentality and reminiscing on his past, Purp paints a vivid picture of his life on the West side. He touches on the cyclical nature of strife by following up “look in the mirror, see myself in my mama’s eyes” with “you see the world in my daughter’s eyes” in the same verse—both images equally traumatizing.
When this narrative subsides, the next song, “Girls @,” brings a completely new energy. It’s hard to listen to this beat and not get nostalgic over The Neptunes-style percussion, courtesy of producer Knox Fortune. On his first verse, Purp shouts out all the accoutrements of the good life and name drops his fellow SaveMoney crew members. Chance The Rapper’s verse is just as playful, seamlessly fitting Ta-Nehisi Coates references and dead iPhones into one night at the club. It’s clear that Purp is going for a banger here, and his sing-along-able hook could be the sign of a summer anthem.
The contrast between the reflective and the lighthearted in these two tracks carries on throughout iiiDrops. On the more reflective side, you have “Cornerstone.” These verses are Purp’s most raw and emotional. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are songs like “Photobooth.” It feels like a “Backseat Freestyle” moment, a full 3-minutes set aside for Purp to just go off. A similar aggressiveness can be felt on “Godbody,” which Complex named as their Best Rap Verse of the Month. The recognition was well-deserved:
Two tone, yellow and rose gold like Mr. T
I’m good with that yay like Mike Dean
Kilers turn police for that break like Ice T
Desperate Niggas turn on they own people like Spike Lee
Joey Purp is the latest member of Chicago’s SaveMoney crew to blow up, along with Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa. iiiDrops serves as his escape route, on the verge of the rap mainstream and eager to break through. On “Winner’s Circle” he declares himself “the 2016 2Pac, back and improved.” Now that Purp has initiated his ascent, let’s see if he will reach the heights of his bold declaration.