A Complete Picture

A Complete Picture

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


















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.

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.







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Joey Purp's Iiidrops is available to stream on Soundcloud

See more of Jesse's work




September 15, 2016