A Complete Picture

September 15, 2016

Jesse Lirola Shoots Chicago's Joey Purp in Robert Geller, Needles, Common Projects, Kuro, and Sri Threads

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It’s easy for a 37-year-old New Yorker who grew up on Tribe, De La, Company Flow, and Mos Def (currently, Yasiin Bey ) to say Hip Hop’s best years are behind it. It’s easy to say these kids today have no respect for the culture. And, a lot of my contemporaries say exactly that. But, I would challenge them by saying they’re just not looking hard enough or listening closely enough.
 
Frankly, you don’t have to look too far. In the midst of all the negative press Chicago has been getting, there’s a beacon of light. The loose collective, Savemoney—whose most familiar face is the ebullient, Chance the Rapper—has been leaving their progressive, intelligent, and honest imprint not only on the city, not only on music, but on pop culture as a whole. Each member has a musical and personal style that touches on current trends, yet feels distinct and honest, much like the vast and varied underground Hip Hop scene
of the 90’s.

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Joey Purp embodies everything that is right about Savemoney and everything that is right about Hip Hop right now. His music is brutally honest, but doesn’t glorify brutality. He’s just as adept at spitting contemplative bars that question the concurrent violence and gentrification in his city as he is at talking shit over a club banger. His lyrics are complicated, but deceptively simple, filled with contradictions and insights. Almost every line is quotable. Most importantly, he’s charismatic— drawing you in without giving you a safe space to sit in. And, I’m not even getting into his more experimental, genre defying adventures on his collaborative project, Leather Corduroys, which showcases his love for, and deep knowledge of, all types of music.

Meeting Joey for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. As a young artist quickly gaining notoriety, I was afraid he would have the ego to match. What I found, however, was a humble young thinker, open to collaborating and sharing ideas. Long after trying on clothes and picking looks for the shoot, we sat around talking about music, Chicago, and everything else.


Make no mistake, Joey’s music isn’t preachy. He covers some dark themes and has clearly lived through and seen some difficult things in his life. But, Joey seems to leave that in his music. In person he was nothing but positive, full of smiles and insights.


Look, I’m no gatekeeper for Hip Hop. The music and the culture are bigger than any one of us and will continue to evolve—I don’t have to be on board with every permutation, and neither do you. But, with artists like Joey Purp making music, I can say with confidence that the culture I love is going to be just fine.


-Noah


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Joey Purp's Iiidrops is available to stream on Soundcloud

See more of Jesse's work

 

 

 

Jesse Lirola shoots musician, Tom Krell in  Sage de Cret, Kuro, and Suicoke

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Not long after we first opened MEYVN a tall, thin guy with tousled dark hair, sporting some limited Nikes, round spectacles and an Our Legacy shirt entered the shop. His style was understated, but to a trained eye, exemplified a knowledge and interest in men’s clothing/fashion/whatever the hell this thing is that I, and so many others have made part of our lives. What I’m saying is, he looked like a potential customer.[column setup="open-col one-half first-in-set"]  

 

I started showing him around the shop, breaking down all the brands, designers, and philosophical choices we make at MEYVN with my typical mix of nerdy enthusiasm and tangential sense of humor. Basically, I did what I usually do when I sense someone is genuinely interested in what we do. But something was different. This guy was grilling me— bluntly asking me about different obscure and cutting edge designers and brands, really putting my knowledge to the test.

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So, I did what I do and inevitably demonstrated MEYVN’s credentials to this guy, who at this point in the story I've discovered is named Tom. I ask Tom if he’s in fashion. He tells me he’s a musician and now it’s my turn to be cynical. Let me guess: he’s in a mediocre band—or, even more likely, a bedroom producer with a Soundcloud page. Everybody’s a “musician” these days. Thanks Garageband.[column setup="close-col"]

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When he told me he had a project called, How To Dress Well I was a little surprised. Not because the name was apropos of the situation we found ourselves in, although it obviously was, but because at least one of his songs had played on our playlist during our conversation. In the same manner Tom wasn’t expecting to find a store he genuinely liked in his Chicago neighborhood, I wasn’t expecting to meet a musician I honestly listened to.

 From that point forward, Tom and I were friends.

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When Jesse Lirola, the photographer on this shoot, approached me about collaborating on something, having Tom model just made sense. Jesse is an insanely talented photographer who’s known for his backstage and portrait work of musicians. He had worked with Tom in the past and after a few emails, everyone was on board.

 We at MEYVN are beyond excited that we’re able to create content with some incredibly talented people, but even more importantly, we’re blessed that we get to consider people like Tom and Jesse part of the MEYVN family.

- Noah

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I’m not here to write about Tom’s music, although I’ll link to some of it at the bottom. There are plenty of articles and reviews that do his art far more justice than I ever could. What I will say is that Tom is a down to earth guy who will show me his favorite hip-hop memes, talk shit on a basketball court, and occasionally discuss nihilistic philosophy, which is the focus of his work as a PHD candidate at DePaul. Tom’s incredibly opinionated and unapologetic about his tastes, but is never closed-minded. He’s always excited to talk about anything from Jamaican dub producers, to 90’s pop and R&B, to Russell Westbrook, to race issues in America, to the merits of just needing a Big Mac. At the end of the day, Tom’s a pensive artist, who somehow manages to come across as just one of the guys.

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