SpaceGhostPurrp - “The Black God” (Official Music Video)
Yesterday, Kanye West and Pusha-T released a new collaboration on Kanye’s website entitled “New God Flow.” Pusha-T delivers the first line — a typically prideful boast that would have felt perfectly at home on Kanye’s landmark 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
“I believe there’s a god above me, I’m just the god of everything else,” he spits.
After hearing that line and subsequently listening to the rest of the song, I was immediately brought back to a couple months ago, when a certain rapper of considerably lower commercial stature released a track that broached similar themes with a much subtler approach.
That rapper’s name is SpaceGhostPurrp, and he’s been kicking around the underground hip-hop circuit for some time now. I first heard of him a couple years ago when I met The New Yorker’s culture writer and former New York Times hip-hop critic Kelefa Sanneh, who championed his lo-fi beats and murky flow while digressing that he probably wouldn’t ever attain the level of buzz of his contemporaries such as Odd Future, who were just starting to become well known at the time. Spaceghost’s crime, Sanneh lamented, was that he was “too weird” for mainstream or even crossover rap success.
After listening to Mysterious Phonk, the new full length album from SpaceGhostPurrp, I can certainly agree that he’s weird, although this record is a little more streamlined than his earlier material. Much of SpaceGhost’s appeal lies in his weirdness, however, and the ways in which he openly defies standard hip-hop tropes and cliches. Although SpaceGhost frustratingly spends much of his time on Mysterious Phonk rapping about the various ways in which he likes to have sex with women, every once in a while he manages to transcend that familiar plane and reach something really fascinating that I haven’t yet heard from any of the other cloud rap luminaries in the scene right now.
Along with its accompanying music video, “The Black God” is one such track. The high-contrast clip forms an eerie complement to its stuttering, syrupy beat, produced by the rapper himself himself, and SpaceGhost’s droning, distorted vocals. His flow is slow and distant, reminiscent of A$AP Rocky’s, although SpaceGhost’s lyrics are much darker and his imagery more refined. He spits largely in abstractions, proffering a kind of Bizarro version of Lil B’s spacey, self-help truisms while maintaining an uncomfortable sense of impending danger. His music and persona is scary not in the way that the gangster rappers of the 1980s and ’90s once were, but rather in the way that David Lynch films are — subtle, uncanny, and just distorted enough from reality to put the listener or viewer on edge. And unlike Pusha T and Kanye, he’s not afraid to be more than a little sacrilegious. Ultimately, that’s refreshing.
Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpvcxxGhxztPvrrp is out now on 4AD. Watch the clip for “The Black God” above.