PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

QUARTERTHING Is the Essential Album Joey Purp Has Been Promising Us

Joey Purp's QUARTERTHING is a record of confident experiments, songs that wander into unknown territory with purpose, capturing lightning in a bottle most of the time.

Joey Purp


7 September 2018

Joey Purp was far from the only Chicago rapper to snag a Chance the Rapper feature in 2016, but he might have made the most of it. To say Chance's rise electrified the city's music scene would be an understatement, but Joey Purp used the push as a status-elevator rather than a ticket to fall out of his own lane. Purp is all about rawness; he's an enthusiastic realist whose songs function as blunt bangers that constantly fight for essentiality. If Joey Purp makes a song about something, he's going to approach the topic with purpose, almost likes he's aiming to make the definitive song about that thing. His Chance collaboration, "[email protected]", is not only his most essential song but one of the most essential songs centered around the tired "where the girls at?" trope. He has a penchant for taking ideas that are tried and true and infusing them with momentum as if everything else was leading up to this one refined moment. It's masterful. Oh, and he really loves to rap.

Now, I'm no purist who lives their life cowering under "DEATH TO MUMBLE RAP" bullshit, but if the status quo of hip-hop today can be critiqued for one thing, it's monotony. In a time where Drake can drop a 25-song album with, like, only ten songs where he actually sounds interested in what he's saying, it's refreshing to hear Joey Purp attack each verse like it's his last, with each hook falling into its groove like he was told at gunpoint to think of something catchy. On his last record, iiiDrops, Purp's urgency was endearing, but he didn't quite have the songs to allow his potential to flourish. QUARTERTHING is exactly the follow-up Purp needed to prove himself. Now that we know he can rap, he's ready to show us that he's ready to be timeless.

Purp's flows are the type that seem custom-made to impress. He's not extremely technical, but his charisma sounds unrestrained and natural, and that on its own is enough to drop jaws. He enters this album with the grandiosity of someone with a ton to prove, shouting every word, and drawing out the end of each line like he's desperate to stop the impact from waning. However, he doesn't sound desperate; he sounds urgent. Opening tracks "24k Gold" and "Godbody" see Purp take two sprawling, soulful beats that are begging to be devoured and lick the plate clean. He raps like it's a game to him, like he's doing as much as he can to prevent a dip in energy, filling every gap with his bombastic voice. It's the type of raw magnetism that could sustain an album on its own if it wanted to, but thankfully, Purp knows he can do more.

He presents exercises in everything from twerk anthems to Vince Staples channeling experimental club-rap to swag rap to annihilations of swag rap... I could go on for a whole paragraph like this. Yet, it's easy to assume that Purp is using QUARTERTHING as a platform to find his niche, but really, his niche is versatility, and each task is tackled with keen fervor. Immediate highlight "Elastic" is impossible to sit still to, with Purp tossing deadbeat dance instructions over a stiff, spacious, and nocturnal instrumental. It never stops going in and is always prepared to grow. It's a more conventional dance-jam than "Aw Shit!", which fares even better with Purp's vocals chopped-up into this stuttery, sticky jumble over a beat where little more than one thing happens at a time, yet the ambiance manages to morph constantly.

Purp is also unafraid to try his hand at trap, with "Diamonds Dancing" riffing off a hypnotic hook in the most offhand way, milking it into oblivion. "Karl Malone" yelps like it's doing its best imitation of Future's "Shit!", and although the influence is obvious, the energy is undeniable. QUARTERTHING is a record of confident experiments, songs that wander into unknown territory with purpose, capturing lightning in a bottle most of the time.

For an album this straightforward and earnest, QUARTERTHING is intoxicating. Purp's music has the refinement of a perfectionist but rarely grasps for anything more than what's on the surface. However, instead of this being a limiter, it makes Purp's words all the more convincing. He really is just a hungry artist who will lose his shit if you try to pinch money from his daughter's college fund. He's not afraid to let you know that this grind is his day-job, a means of chasing bread, but that doesn't detract from the fact that he loves every minute of it. Even when he mocks the braggadocio of radio rap's norm on "Look at My Wrist!", the hook could easily be mistaken for the same flexing he's critiquing, serving as a respectful nod to just how fun this "fuck shit" can be. QUARTERTHING is result of valiant effort and unfiltered talent. It tells no stories other than those most essential to Purp's being. Unpretentious and audacious, QUARTERTHING succeeds in being an album that is definitively his own.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.