Born in ’91, Spaceghostpurrp claims to have started rapping around the age of seven, cooking up his first beat when he was 13. With the influence of hip-hop fanatic parents (legend has it Purrp’s mother raps on a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony track), access to cheap music programmes on his computer, a diagnosis of ADHD and an overactive imagination, it’s no wonder he’s already left an extensive catalogue of mixtapes in his wake.
Although Spaceghostpurrp deserves credit as the creator of a unique and bizarre sound, his influences are loudly pronounced. His lo-fi mixtapes are jammed with eccentric versions of the music that blew his mind as a teenager; concoctions of twisted crunk, slurred screw-tape Houston style, distorted G-funk and early 90s East coast hardcore rap (think the most rugged and gothic elements of RZA’s 1992-’96 production). His beats have an explicitly druggy feel, reflecting a mind that’s been shaped by adolescent experiences of sipping Sizzurp, late night game console sessions shrouded in a cloud of blunt smoke and coked-up misadventures in Miami’s seediest strip clubs.
So far Spaceghostpurrp has prioritised making his name a solo artist, but he’s also the leader of the Raider Klan, an underground network of rappers who are constantly wearing black (“That’s our uniform, because we got black hearts”, Purrp informs Crack). There hasn’t been a great deal of musical output from the rest of the collective, and it seems there are many more members yet to emerge from the shadows. Having said that, a few mixtapes can be dug out online and their YouTube channel hosts a series of DIY music videos that give you a glimpse of a patchy, but potentially promising hub of talent.
As well as being affiliated with Oakland cloud rap duo Main Attraktions, Spaceghostpurrp was a close member of ASAP Rocky’s circle during his rapid elevation last year. Occasionally adopting the moniker ASAP Purrp, he’d loiter with the ASAP Mob around Harlem, often joining them onstage. If you missed the ASAP X Raider Klan Stash house freestyles from that era, we recommend that you check them out. Purrp ended up scoring a couple of guest appearances on Rocky’s game-changing mixtape LiveLoveA$AP and produced his heaviest hype track Pretty Flacko, which probably acted as a catalyst for Purrp’s transition from underground weirdo to globally recognised buzz rapper.
His first official album, Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of Spaceghostpurrp, released by highly regarded indie label 4AD (Ariel Pink, Grimes, Deerhunter, Bon Iver, TV On The Radio) is a compilation of the strongest tracks from his mixtapes, with the vocals and beats re-recorded and re-mastered. In comparison to Spaceghostpurrp’s erratic stylistic shape-shifting on insane mixtapes like Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6, Mysterious Phonk feels surprisingly cohesive. Vocally he is sturdier and clearer in the mix and lyrically the songs he’s picked highlight the observational and streetwise elements of his persona, although his crude tributes to the opposite sex and requests for fellatio remain intact.
With the beats scrubbed up, Mysterious Phonk testifies that when equipped with the right resources, Spaceghostpurrp can be a truly artful producer. Revamped cuts of tunes like Been Fweago and Bring the Phonk are saturated with a cold moisture and metallic echo that makes you visualise Purrp hooded, all dressed in black, lurking on a projects stairway or shivering in the rusty derelict warehouse where those early Wu-Tang videos were shot. It’s a sound that instantly makes your blood temperature drop a couple of degrees and it demonstrates a natural gift that’d make the most studious electronic producers envious.
So when Crack finally manages to get hold of Spaceghostpurrp on the phone, we know the interview is going to be anything but dull. He actually comes across as a really courteous guy, generally pretty mellow, but capable of fierceness. And we like to think we managed to get a little insight into the mindset of a rapper who has fame and success within his grasp, but refuses to compromise for anyone.
Hi Purrp. Where are you right now and what’s going on?
At the house and just relaxing, getting ready to go to New York. Everybody’s excited and I’m excited too. But I’m just chillin, you know? I’m laid back.
What is it about 4AD which made you want to sign with them?
They’re underrated and they get the job done. They know about the unknown talent that nobody else would see.
Since you’ve been on 4AD have you discovered any music on the label that you like?
Yeah, I like Grimes man.
It’s not long ago that you couldn’t find DJs willing to host your mixtapes. This year you’ve had Cee Lo hitting you up on Twitter wanting to collaborate. Does it feel like your success has been a long struggle, or did it all blow up suddenly?
I’ve come a long way, you know? It took me, like, six years to get to where I’m at now, to get my own identity. But I can’t get comfortable, know what I’m saying? I just got to keep doing what I do best but keep on evolving.
You started making beats when you were 13. What were the main records that were inspiring you back then?
Around that age it was like, Three Six Mafia, a lot of 90s hardcore hip- hop and the whole underground, everything from the East coast, the West coast to the South.
So I guess around that time you were probably using Napster to find music?
Napster! Yeeeeeah, the good old Napster days …
You’ve always said that Three Six Mafia are one of your biggest sources of inspiration, how does it feel to be working alongside Juicy J? Are you guys friends?
It was a legendary moment, it was like it was destined. He’s worked hard all his life but today some people still don’t know him. He knows how it is, he knows what I’ve been trying to do for the South since I’ve been making music and he respects what I’m doing. Why does he respect what I’m doing? Because I’m paying homage, that’s what I always do, that’s what I’m doing for Juicy J and everyone who inspired me. Paying homage to them, showing them my love and respect, know what I’m saying?
We’d like to ask you about growing up in Miami, how have your experiences influenced the way that you see the world?
Man, growing up in this shit, this shit’s crazy man. Like, when I was growing up in school as a youth, it was like everyone had a penitentiary mind, nobody had the mind of a child in my area. Every child growing up in Miami was wanting to do that fast life, know what I’m saying? Sex, drugs and all that shit. It was all about what you got. If you have something people gonna respect you, so it was about being on top of the game. It’s kind of like the rap game. Every rapper’s trying to be on top of the game and shit, but like, when you’re growing up you’ve got to stay humble and you’ve got to be laid back, because if you known as that nigga who is always talking shit, niggas down here will expose you. That’s one thing about my niggas in Miama, my niggas is real observant and we’re strong people you know, we don’t make ourselves look like clowns, you feel me? We’re born with that gangster mentality but thing about it is, we show love, we show people respect and we only retaliate when people hate on us.
So you think that even when your lyrics get gritty, you’re still representing a positive frame of mind?
Yeah, like Don’t Get Ya Head Bust is to the people who don’t like me, who take my kindness for weakness and talk shit about me. It’s like, I’m showing you love and you thinking I’m a bitch? That’s why the first words I say is ‘You’re never stopping me/or never knocking me/I’m getting to the money properly like monopoly.’ I’m telling them the more you try and stop me, the more I’m gonna try getting to the top. I’m going through the same shit now, I’m still dealing with people like that. So that’s what that song’s about, it’s about the people who take my kindness for weakness and get their fuckin’ head bust up.
Mysterious Phonk is a solo joint. The world knows about Spaceghostpurrp now, but not so many people know about the rest of the Raider Klan, so who should we be looking out for?
Look out for Dough Dough, look out for Yung Simmie, look out for Amber London, Denzel Curry, Harvey G, Ethelwulf , Chriz Traviz … fuck, wait we got more, shit is real… umm Keynyata and Yung Renegade. We got a squad man. If I missed some of my niggas, it’s because there’s a lot of us. I love them. This is just the beginning, people already feeling what we’re doing but we’ve got a lot of progress to make. I don’t really give a fuck because when we’ve got a chance to show the world what we do, motherfuckers better fall back.
Could you tell us a bit about your affiliation with the ASAP mob. Are you going to be on the group album that’s supposedly coming out this year?
As far as ASAP goes – no we’re not doing anything, we’re not working. I’m not working with ASAP Rocky ever again. So no, it’s not happening.
Really? So you won’t be making more beats for ASAP or anything?
No, I mean I support them. I got respect for them, but nah I’m not working with Rocky.
Which new artists are you really feeling at the moment? Do you like Chief Keef and that whole new Chicago scene?
Oh yeah, Chief Keef! As a matter of fact, you know what’s fucking funny? Chief Keef just came on the radio when you said his name. Yeah, I fuck with Chief Keef man. Chief Keef is aged 16. When I was 16 I was doing the same shit, the same type of vibe, that shit crazy. I fuck with Chief Keef, King Louie, Lil Reese and Lil Durk and all those Chicago niggas. We fuck with Chicago in Florida and we fuck with their movement, you feel me? We show love man. Those niggas need to come down Miami and fuck with Raider Klan one day.
Just to clear this up – was there ever really beef with Taylor Gang in the first place? Cause you produced for Wiz Khalifa onTaylor Allderdice and stuff…
Nah, I mean there was never no beef with Wiz. When I made that song Fuck Taylor Gang, it was directed towards all his fans. In my neighbourhood, all these fans would run around screaming ‘Taylor Gang’ but they’d disrespect my Raider Klan niggas. I told Wiz I don’t have no beef with him, I respect what he’s doing. He’s a positive dude, he reached out to me and I sent him a beat and that shit was a hit.
So now you’ve done this record with 4AD, are you sticking to more professional recordings, or are you going to throw out some lo-fi stuff, maybe some mixtapes?
I’m gonna do that. I want put out some real crazy shit man. I can’t wait, you’re going to love it man, it’s going to be wild.
OK Purrp, we’ll let you go now, thanks for your time.
No problem man, thanks for hitting up me up and hearing me out. You’re speaking to a down to earth dude, I’m all about the truth.
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Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles Of Spaceghostpurrp is available now on 4AD
Words: David Reed