SpaceGhostPurrp is buzzing. This is important. The rapper, aligned with A$AP Rocky’s crew and a formidable artist on his own, celebrated the release of his debut album Mysterious Phonk: Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp at SOB’s last night.
Following short opening sets by the always dazzling Despot and the fated to be an also-ran Vinny Chase, SGP took the stage to much fanfare. Purrp performed to pre-recorded backing tracks, surrounded by a gaggle of his associates and various hangers-on. While the “have all of your friends come onstage and rap with you” strategy is certainly a tried and true one in hip-hop, for SGP it felt like a cop-out: Mysterious Phonk is a paranoid, insular document, featuring absolutely zero guests and entirely self-made beats. The platonic ideal of SpaceGhostPurrp is that of the lone wolf, striking into the wilderness of the stage starkly alone to tell his tales of madness and depravity.
Seeing the would-be ominous Purrp flanked by his posse felt like a perfunctory nod to hip-hop tradition, or perhaps an example of the young performer admitting to his own insecurities. Purrp’s violent lyrics share many qualities with the power-obsessed metal bands currently traversing the contemporary indiesphere, even a tacit acknowledgment of the pressures of fame in such a specific arena at a young age. There exists a stigma against new performers of all ages and stripes, the question of, “Well, can this impressive act pull his schtick off live?” As of now, SGP cannot. Though his wall of compatriots meant to signify power, the most it did was subtly acknowledge Purrp’s shortcomings.
However, SpaceGhostPurrp has never been a lyrics-first guy. He traffics in fight chants and nothing more, lyrics that present themselves once and get out of the way for the beats to do the legwork. His cavernous instrumentals sounded great coming out of industrial-strength speakers, and for some, that is enough.