Florida-based rapper/producer SpaceGhostPurrp takes on lo-fi production aesthetics as a badge of honor, making beats that are just grimy and bedroom-produced enough to match his crude, sexually-obsessed, aggressively personal style. On Mysterious Phonk: Crhonicles of SpaceGhostPurrp, he finds himself under the 4AD banner, with an accompanying slight upgrade in production. For better or worse, though, that change in production can’t change the defiant SpaceGhostPurrp or his politics.
Misogynist material in hardcore rap is a repeat issue, and it’s something that will certainly turn a lot of listeners off from this album. Whether in a positive or negative light, the women in SpaceGhostPurrp’s world are always sexualized. This is a guy who can write a song called “Suck a Dick For 2011”, and then craft a sequel for this new disc (complete with lines like “open up your mouth, bitch and swallow it,” the whole thing in the Odd Future vein). Even at best, women are “goddesses” he’s “idolizin’…while I spit in the booth,” as on opener “Mystikal Maze”. Whether ordered or invited, the dominant theme of this album is that women are sexual objects.
That said, the beats on the album are consistently bumpin’, and SpaceGhostPurrp’s loopy, slow delivery never fails to mesmerize. The broken adding machine screeches, tubular bells, and insistent drums of “Bringing the Phonk” match the mantra-like repetitions of the title for the opening minute and a half, SpaceGhostPurrp’s staccato delivery punctuating the crowded air. The dark, dank, claustrophobic world of “Get Yah Head Bust” moves on a bass-y storm, twisted synth rhythms pulsing in each ear, and Purrp’s gritty, low flow straight in the center. The shout-outs to Cuban Linx and Luther Vandross on “Paranoid” are noteworthy, but it’s the divulgence of personal details (“not from the slums, but I’m from the southside of FLA”) and the multiple versions of himself breathing out “paranoia” throughout the stereo spectrum that make the track a standout.
Much like the Odd Future catalog, SpaceGhostPurrp’s impressive, stark, spooky production will be enough to win over listeners bothered by the sexism. There will be others who aren’t even bothered, and there will be those that turn the thing off after a few verses. All that aside, SpaceGhostPurrp’s insistence of self and excellent production are strong enough to stand out in the crowded field that rap has become.
Essential Tracks: “Bringing the Phonk”, “Paranoid”