Chicago is one of the most populated cities in the country, and was one of the first cities not on a coast to produce legend after legend in the genre of hip-hop. However, it is often pigeonholed into specific sounds and themes, generally jazz-infused and socially conscious. Think artists like Common or Chance the Rapper. On the other side of the coin, there’s the wholly different drill music popularized by artists like Chief Keef that permeates the trap wave that currently has a stranglehold on popular hip-hop.
However, a city of nearly three million people is mathematically bound to produce artists that break this mold in one way or another. 24-year-old Joseph Davis, better known as Joey Purp, may not sound incredibly unique in the sea of contemporary hip-hop at first listen, but, especially in his most recent effort, Quarterthing, it is clear Joey Purp is attempting to stand out. The 36-minute album features appearances from both RZA and GZA, as well as a crop of Chicago standouts like Ravyn Lenae and Cdot Honcho. However, the standout of this album is its variety of production styles and the attempted versatility of its main star. From the triumphant boom-bap inspired beginnings to the lazy trap flows of some of the later parts, the project swerves in its style rapidly.
Joey Purp set out on a short tour to promote the album with fellow Chicago rapper KAMI, stopping in their hometown, and two dates on both coasts. On October 8, Songbyrd Music House hosted the tour, cramming about a hundred or two people to watch the two perform on a remarkably tiny stage in a basement in DC.
The opener KAMI came out and brought energy to the crowd with just a few songs. The heavily Travis Scott inspired vocals matched the passion in KAMI’s performance, with the Chicago native splitting the crowd in two before several songs to incite a mosh pit, in which he participated. He remarked for a while on the low ceilings on the stage portion of Songbyrd, expressing his concern for hitting his head if he jumped too high.
Shortly after the fairly lengthy opening set, the DJ introduced the headliner, and Joey Purp rushed out performing a short section of an older song, before cutting it off, explaining, “that’s how we used to start things, but now that we dropped that Quarterthing…”
This prompted applause and roars from the audience. The remainder of the show featured most of the new record, with a slight mix of older material.
Altogether, Joey Purp’s set added up to about a dozen and a half songs. This lengthy set list was worked through quickly and efficiently, with no song outstaying its welcome. Joey Purp’s live performance brings vital context to some of Quarterthing’s songs. The more aggressive and even obnoxious parts of the project often become more meaningful when Joey Purp can directly express them to his audience.
Joey Purp may not be the foremost voice in the world of hip-hop today, but he is developing his craft in a way that may be worth some attention. Joey Purp has a long way to go in his career, but there is little reason to believe that he is not on the way there.
These incredible photos from Joey Purp’s performance at Songbyrd Music House, in Washington, DC, on October 8, 2018, were taken by StayUp.News senior content producer and photographer Jack M. Angelo: