Sinister and shadowy raps to enjoy at your own risk.
Darren Loucaides 2012
If you’re looking for some alternative super-genius saviour from the supposedly brainless, neon world of commercial hip hop (despicable killjoy that you are), then don’t expect it from SpaceGhostPurrp. At least not on this, his debut LP with 4AD, a label better known for releasing noisy indie and experimental pop music than bizzarro rap.
Mysterious Phonk: Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp doesn’t flow down a parallel mirror-world river to the mainstream, as Lil Wayne did before conquering both universes. Instead, it wallows in one of the filthy cesspools that gather between trends, collecting lost ideas, failed genres, vomited visions of the underworld.
Hailing from Miami’s Carol City suburb, SpaceGhostPurrp chants over layers of assorted, often incongruous bits and bobs – a broken organ, robotic animal noises, warped church bells, space-radio bleeps. It sounds video-gamey, like a first-person horror quest for a lost child through a realm of zombies, or a spacecraft shoot-em’-up where no-one hears you scream.
As such, it’s easy to dismiss, especially with the banal, repetitive lyrics, which veer from bemusing to comedy cliché. Several times he takes a senseless, uninspiring line like, “I’ma keep bringing the phonk, and you n***** can’t stop me” (Bringing the Phonk), or “Don’t get yah head bust n****” (Get Yah Head Bust), and drones them over and over, up to a dozen times, until you feel you’ve been sinisterly closed into an airless box.
The worst thing you can find out about someone claiming to be offbeat and different is that the apparent weirdness is affected. SpaceGhostPurrp has described himself as “crazy” and “f***ed up”, and while his shoulder-shrug at the twin rap goals of money and fame is refreshing, sometimes you fear his attempts at peculiarity are a bit juvenile. Like he’s a kid piecing together tape recordings from his favourite games and films, dropping in the occasional porno cut, and trying to pass it off as mystical magic.
Then again, at 20-years-old, SpaceGhostPurrp is still a kid; and if you avoid Mysterious Phonk during the impatient daytime hours, you’ll find it impressively dark and uncomfortable. It’s a shadowy room filled with the stale aroma of cannabis, with no company but for the eerie clamour of late-night TV, and the spooky feeling that the night could go on forever. Enter at your peril.