Rapper Joey Purp needs to be on your radar. The 23-year-old musician is currently reveling in the accolades from his 2016 mixtape, iiiDrops, which utilizes the listeners’ senses and emotions through songs such as “Photograph” and “GIRLS@.” A member of the collaborative rap group Savemoney with Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa and more, Purp knows a thing or two about making thought-provoking music that is still sonically stimulating.
At the Broccoli City Festival in Washington D.C., Purp pulled double duty, acting as a coalition member for the Toyota Green Initiative and also a performer on the City Stage at the event, where he bought high levels of energy during the somewhat dreary day. He talked to VIBE about the range of emotions in his mixtape, the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and names his favorite rappers growing up.
VIBE: Tell me a little about the area of Chicago you grew up in.
Joey Purp: I grew up all over the city, we moved a lot. Always somewhere different. When I was younger, we lived near Humboldt Park, a little bit west of Humboldt Park, which is like a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Then, my dad lived with us up north at that time, and he moved back to the south side, and my mother and brother and I moved from Humboldt Park to the Wrigleyville area. We moved to my mother’s childhood home, which was like my grandmother’s home. Now, I live on the west side. I’ve really lived everywhere.
Who were some of the musicians that you listened to that inspired your sound?
Definitely Andre 3000, Jay Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne, Wu-Tang, Big L. All the typical rap guys, that rap a** rap stuff! [Laughs]
I love Kanye. What’s your favorite Kanye song?
That’s a deep question. There’s too many really good ones, but low key, I think my favorite one is this song called “Improvise.” It was an unreleased song from right around, in between College Dropout and Late Registration. It was an extra track that sort of leaked onto the Internet, that’s my favorite Kanye song. Followed by maybe “Celebration.”
Chicago has a lot of different sounds. How do you think your music fits best with the city’s sound?
I’d like to think that my sound is reflective of the city, not necessarily sonically, but the things that I’m talking about and the attitude that I’m coming in with.
Right. I know you and guys like Chance [The Rapper] and Vic [Mensa] had been a part of Savemoney, which was obviously a lot of collaboration. Chicago had a lot of division, and I think it really takes young people, a strong voice and a strong vision to make change. Was that one of your missions with Savemoney?
No, I can’t even lie, no. When we started [Savemoney], we were just friends making music, and then, eventually we kind of understood where we stand. We started taking proactive steps towards making the right decisions in public, and speaking for the right things. As we got older, we understood what we could control. Originally though, we were just making music.
Speaking of bringing awareness to causes, you’re here [at Broccoli City as a part the Toyota Green Initiative] to promote living a healthy lifestyle. What inspired you to live a more holistic life?
I’ve been vegetarian for about six years now, I’ve been vegan for a little over a year. I was just super unhealthy. When I was in high school, I weighed like 275 pounds. I started biking every day, I lived like 17 miles from my school, really far from my school, so I biked there every day, started biking to hang out with my friends. Then, I became a vegetarian and I lost 100 pounds in a year. I really started to pay attention to what I put in my body, and I started to realize what feeling good really meant and what being healthy really meant, you know?
For your iiiDrops mixtape, was your intention to have an assortment of emotions on display? Because when listening, I felt your happiness, your pain, some struggle too.
I wanted to be reflective of me, and you know, sometimes I wanna be on my classic sounding, hip-hop sh*t, sometimes I wanna talk about what really matters. Sometimes, I wanna turn up, sometimes I wanna make some sh*t for my girl. That was really the catalyst for the sound, the emotions that we feel every day.
What do you think is the track that’s most reflective of your journey?
Probably the first song, “Morning Sex.” It just feels the best to me. It resonates the most with me. That and “Cornerstore.” “Cornerstore” has other people on it [Saba and theMIND], so they’re able to tell their stories about our city as well, but as a whole, “Morning Sex” is all encompassing with me.
What’s been the song that resonates the most with listeners?
Probably “GIRLS@.” Fun is a universal language. No matter how righteous you are or how evil you may be, we can all agree that sometimes, we have fun. Whether you agree or disagree with the other songs on the album, “GIRLS@“ is the one that is for everyone. It was fun to make.
Who were some of your collaborators and producers on the album?
Knox Fortune, Thelonius Martin, theMIND, Odd Couple is a producer.
Nice. So, what’s next for you?
I’m dropping a project soon, it’s gonna be a compilation of songs, just a little fun thing to put out.