Review Summary: selling what?QUARTERTHING
is a living juxtaposition; it’s the album where Joey Purp has realized his own fame yet is self-aware enough to combat against the idea “selling out”. And on the surface level, this album is selling out, at least in the same way Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory
sold out in it’s minimalistic, aesthetic-based production. Yet, comparatively Joey Purp’s effort is more invigoriting in the long run as it doesn’t simply bandwagon a production trend. In fact, it’s much more likely to parody the 2018 rap styles, as seen with tracks like ‘Elastic’ and ‘Fessional/Diamonds Dancing’. The former pokes fun at the out-of-place yet popular hit ‘Girls@’ found on his previous effort, featuring Chance the Rapper. At least, it does within the short, choppy verses melded with the striking yet minimal beat that backs Joey’s monotone flow. The latter is a drawling song, one I wouldn’t necessarily consider objectively good by any means as his faux-xan induded flow doesn’t come off too naturally and ends up falling short of being a convincing stand-alone track. However, this song is essential for the thesis of this album which, simply put, is Joey Purp’s consious effort at selling out; it's an intentional step into the trendy rap waters that leaves his other foot planted in the familiar grounds of lyrical aptitude.
The entertaining part of this album is deciding whether or not some of these lines are intentionally poking fun at the album’s own motif. On ‘Look at My Wrist’ Purp delivers some of his hardest lines on the entire release, backed by a sparkling trap beat that’s easily the most captivating song on first listen. However, right before the flashy, material-based chorus (“damn look at my wrists/bitch/crib/etc.
”) Purp alerts the listener as to what the track is truly about. Although this is a critique of self-made rappers jumping the gun to brag about their riches, at times it seems as if Joey Purp is doing the exact same thing. On highlight single ‘Bag Talk’ the chorus consists of a, “she like how the car stops but the rims don’t
” and while it’s enticingly fun to rap along to, it’s the exact same thing he was criticising just four songs ago. It seems as if Joey Purp is experimenting with this idea of cashing out, diving into different rap personalities and styles and exploring how each of these imaginary personas would act within this thematic context. Thusly, the entire album is a mish-mash of split-identities, all cohesive in the fact that each song is a piece of Joey Purp himself yet they all diverge into differing terretories, some unknown and some strangely familiar. Although the album’s arc is seemingly random in this regard, the opener is definitively the best-placed song on the album as it’s undoubtedly the real Joey Purp. On ‘24k Gold/Sanctified’ the all-too familiar brass-based beat greets the listener with a rare maximalist approach, much like any track on iiiDrops
, a soulful endeavor that’s charming in its form and lyrics. The mantra is simple: “All we ask is trust, all they need is love / All we have is we, all we need is us
” and while it’s all smiles in this regard, Joey Purp showcases his brilliant storytelling skills yet again, taking his listeners to the ruthless streets of Chicago where the same friends he bailed out are the ones fucking his baby momma right after the fact.
It’s truly fitting that the title track is Joey at his best, yet it’s also so far away from the Joey found on iiiDrops
. In it he practically brags about everything, from his girl to his drug-induced lifestyle to even his absurd amount of cell phones. It’s almost comical when the line, “ain’t a damn thing changed
” comes in during the chorus, yet that’s the point isn’t it？ The entire album is an experiment into Joey’s peers and his own psyche, referencing Eazy E’s ‘Boyz-in-the-Hood’ while bragging about everything you’d see in a Migos song. The transition from this track to the centerpiece of ‘Paint Thinner’ is astonishing as it’s, again, the same Joey Purp found 2 years ago, referencing extremely personal things like how he hopes his own son won’t follow the same drug-dealing fate his father did. “Things change around shiny things
” is basically a response to the capitalist-loving Purp on the previous track and the interplay between these personas is fascinating. If anything, this alone allows QUARTERTHINGS
to be one of the most entertaining rap albums of this year, also showcasing features from GZA and RZA as well as some unknown local Chicago artists. In it you’ll find songs that you can enjoy for all the right reasons, as well as ones you can love for all the wrong ones. It’s self-aware in how invigorating the new rap trends are yet it still clings to a sense of identity, making it an absurd yet charming experimentation into the album’s uniting prompt: what if Joey Purp sold out？