Music

Various Artists: Got Purp? Vol. II

David Weigel

Bubba Sparxxx and Killer Mike, are cut from the same cloth as Big Boi, and their tracks here could have appeared on Speakerboxxx. But most of the songs here sound totally different than anything on that record or even The Love Below.


Various Artists

Got Purp? Vol. II

Label: Purple Ribbon Entertainment
US Release Date: 2005-11-22
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

In the heady days of 2001, as singles from OutKast's album Stankonia demolished genre and radio formats, some smart folks started comparing the hip-hop duo to the Beatles. Big, red warning flares. Typically, when a hip-hop group produced music melodic and oddball enough to warrant a Beatles comparison, it was a prelude to a sophomore slump (De La Soul) or a dramatic falloff in creativity (Beastie Boys). But surprisingly, after a detour with a greatest hits album (an even graver sign of doom), OutKast roared back with 2003's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and dominated airwaves again well into 2004.

Now the band's output is slowing down -- they're releasing a movie soundtrack this winter, and Andre 3000 is taking on more acting jobs. Big Boi is using this lull to try out one of the Beatlesisms that very few groups last long enough to emulate. This summer, he took the reins of OutKast's sleepy Aquemini vanity label and rechristened it Purple Ribbon Entertainment. The Apple Records-style imprint is releasing two albums this year, starting with this compilation, Got Purp? Vol. II.

If the album works (it does) and the label is a success (it might be), it's because Big Boi surrounds himself with artists who sound nothing like him. The label's established stars, Bubba Sparxxx and Killer Mike, are cut from the same cloth as Big Boi, and their tracks here could have appeared on Speakerboxxx. But most of the songs here sound totally different than anything on that record or even The Love Below.

The first real surprise, coming after two fat hip-hop tracks and three skits, is Sleepy Brown's "Me, My Baby, & My Cadillac". It's a straight-up pop-soul song by the producer of TLC's "Waterfalls", and evokes a Hummer limo cruising into a car wash staffed by Pam Grier lookalikes. Janelle Monae's two songs are just as catchy, but dip into very different styles. Her "Time Will Reveal" is a disco song, believe it or not, decked out with bubbly electro effects and layered tracks of her sweet, rich vocals. Monae's other song "Lettin' Go" isn't as successful, but it's nice to hear proud, catchy electro-pop gaining a foothold outside of Gwen Stefani albums.

Two contributions by Scar keep the creativity bubbling. His Big Boi collaboration "U Got Me" is yet more disco, this time decked out with Barry White strings. The luxorious "What Is This?" (with Cee-Lo) is an R. Kelly song minus the ego, the lazy production and, in the last couple years, the urge to start giggling.

What about the hip-hop tracks? For the most part, they kill. The leadoff single "Kryptonite (I'm on It)", which pulls together Big Boi, Killer Mike, and two more Purple Ribbon artists, is simply one of the year's best songs. The emcees trade off verses over a nimble piano hook that stops on every downbeat, then a snaky Middle-Eastern-sounding horn sample. At the chorus they join in on a chant backed up by a bass line that shatters pavement at 35 decibels.

The next two hip-hop tracks are solid, slower, and a little less ambitious. "Body Rock" sounds a bit like "Kryptonite", but slowed down and with Michael Bay keyboard blasts replacing the piano hooks. Bubba Sparxxx's showcase "Claremont Lounge" is as sleazy as its strip club namesake, and emcees trade rhymes like "High as fuck, contemplating million dollar plans. She a million dollar bitch and I'm a million dollar man. Only thing missing is about a million dollars."

Two of the hip-hop tracks are disappointments. The Goodie Mob comeback track "Hold On" starts strong but goes nowhere, and Big Boi's own "808" doesn't even start strong. But the mixtape finishes well with two songs by Konkrete.

If you want to continue the Beatles/Apple parallel, Konkrete is Badfinger -- matching the best hooks of his mentors and coupling them with dirty, radio-friendly riffs. (If you want to keep pursuing that parallel, I think Scar is the new James Taylor. Perhaps you should stop pursuing that parallel.) "Lovin' This" is a raunchy diary entry from Konkrete's sex life and groundbreaking techniques, and "Shit Ya Drawers" is a string of call-outs and insults with a furious chorus hook: "Punk! Bitch! Punk! Bitch!"

It's nice that, with OutKast, we've found a hip-hop group that met the Beatles comparisons and survived. But it may be time to retire those comparisons. Apple Records was always more of a tax shelter and Harrison/Lennon outtake depot than a real record company. Judging by these first offerings, Purple Ribbon and its artist stable could amount to much more.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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