It's very likely that without Tyler, The Creator and the Odd Future collective, this record would never have been released. But the revitalisation of horrorcore by the California rapper and producer - and the consolidation over the past three or four years of this new alternative route for unorthodox and non-mainstream MCs and artists, wisely accepted by both audience and press - made it possible that a label like 4AD, normally not associated with hip-hop, would jump into the pool with “Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles Of SpaceGhostPurrp”. We could consider the release the official debut of Florida rapper and producer SpaceGhostPurrp, a household name on the mixtape circuit who's delivering much anticipated evidence of his incipient and fascinating talent.
The only objection one could have against “Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles Of SpaceGhostPurrp” is that he included a few tracks that could already be heard on several mixtapes the man has released over the past few years. But that's become quite a regular thing these days: every official debut comes with material previously featured on street releases, which in a way lessens or even neutralises the possible surprise effect of the album. In the case of SpaceGhostPurrp, nevertheless, it's just a minor flaw. Although he's been one of the great hopes of the 'alternative' scene for years now, he's still relatively unknown in the midstream, let alone the mainstream. And, unlike A$AP Rocky and Odd Future themselves, who have some aesthetic features that make them more accessible to non-specialised listeners, the Florida artist stays true to his radical self, thus remaining hard to digest for some.
“Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles Of SpaceGhostPurrp” holds some old and some new tracks, but the public will hardly notice the difference between them. His sound is so defined and so particular, that it ends up forming a solid and compact block, with no fissures or slopes. The production, full of dark effects, sounds from the grave and sleepy beats, make southern rap - and its screwed and chopped versions - seem ultra fast. The tempo is always the same, exasperatingly and toxically slow, smoking, under the influence of marihuana rather than purple drank, up to the point of sometimes being reminiscent of Tricky, or Mad Professor (“Get Ya Head Bust” could be from “Pre-millennium Tension”, without exaggerating). This is because of how SpaceGhostPurrp treats the beats, the bass lines, the reverb and the moods, like a stellar and new crossover between trip-hop and the dirty south. Although it's a lo-fi production, remastered and styled for his debut on 4AD, it possesses personality and original arguments, and the man knows how to integrate influences from several stylistic sources in his particular sound.
His graceful flow, indebted to Tricky, is partly responsible for the constant doped-up feel of his music. It moves perfectly between the clouds of smoke coming from his beats, producing lyrics that play with hallucinations, sexual tension and psychotic outbursts. SpaceGhostPurrp hasn't got the suicidal and murderous tendencies of Tyler, The Creator - his universe is calmer and more peaceful - but he does share his nihilist and disillusioned vision of the world. Furthermore, a pathological obsession with sex and women, a repetitive and redundant subject matter which, however, fits the artist's sound like a glove. It's brave and daring of 4AD to release a record born in no man's land (as it doesn't even represent Florida rap) - iconoclast and radically un-commercial - of which the main interest lies in the convulsed interior world of a rapper who's allergic to the common places of the genre.