Last time we heard from Chicago rapper Joey Purp was in 2016, when he had dropped his 2nd mixtape iiiDrops, one of many great releases to come from Chicago’s pool of talented young artists. iiiDropswas a well-rounded project in which Purp presented a very candid viewpoint of a young man navigating the often-harsh realities and emotions that come with life in Chicago, from a dissatisfaction with stagnant politics to a fear of violence and imminent danger.
Now, “Young Purple” returns with QUARTERTHING, a follow-up to that acclaimed 2016 project and supposedly an intermediary mixtape leading up to a proper album debut.
The Savemoney co-founder begins this tape with a bang, in much the same way he began his previous project: a bombastic beat, an energetic delivery, and grim lyrics about poverty, unjust incarceration, disloyal friends, and nihilistic violence (“I know we still alive but I wake up to bullets flying / Homicides, my daughter crying / Ambulances speeding past / Pray none of my niggas die”).
“Godbody Pt. 2” is a sequel to iiiDrop‘s standout track “Godbody,” and, with the help of legendary Wu-Tang producer/rapper the RZA, delivers more of the same impressive rhyme schemes, over dramatic organs and an animated drumbreak that matches his compelling microphone presence.
Elsewhere, Joey experiments a bit, sonically and vocally. He incorporates much more trap and “SoundCloud” influence than he has in the past on songs like “Look at My Wrist” and “Fessional/Diamonds Dancing”, as well as dance/house-inspired rhythms in the songs “Elastic” and “Aw Sh*t.” And on “2012,” “Karl Malone,” and “Bag Talk,” Purp plays around with filtered/auto-tuned vocals over smacking instrumentals, but returns to normal in order to flex lyrically on the stripped back, Ether-esque beat of “Lebron James.”
As a whole, QUARTERTHING may be not quite as cohesive or cogent as iiiDrops, as it lacks a lot of the narrative, storytelling, and plain-spoken political commentary that made 2016 release such a gripping listen, and further shows that Joey still has a ways to go to becoming the caliber of star that some of his Savemoney counterparts — Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa — have aspired to. With that being said, Joey’s charismatic performance in front of the mic, as well as a generally solid selection of instrumental backdrops, still make QUARTERTHING a gratifying listen.