SpaceGhostPurrp wants his hip-hop sound to crash through the underground and become mainstream. The rapper/producer, known for murky beats and laid-back rhymes, has spent the past few years constructing ethereal soundscapes for artists including A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa while charging his own career with free online projects like "NASA the Mixtape" and "Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6." Now, with his debut album, "Mysterious Phonk: The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp," due June 12 on 4AD Records, the Miami native expects to attract the spotlight instead of chasing it.
"I'm anti-," SpaceGhostPurrp says. "I'm an anti-person. I'm always doing it different from everybody else. Hip-hop is going to follow where I go. I'm not trying to be cocky, but I feel like I've got this sound everybody's been looking for these past few years, because I've been studying the game. I'm just ready to change the game."
For SpaceGhostPurrp, also known as SGP, the game-changing involved partnering with a label that wouldn't compromise his vision. 4AD head Simon Halliday, who signed American folk band Bon Iver in 2008 (for U.K. release) and British electronica duo the Big Pink to the London-based imprint, heard the 21-year-old rapper's mixtapes last year, but firmly believed that he would likely sign with a major label instead of an indie. After Halliday met SGP in January, however, the two ironed out a one-off deal to release an album to retail markets, with the artist's choice of fresh material and older tracks.
As a relative newcomer to R&B/hip-hop music, Halliday saw the opportunity as an entry point into a rap faction on the rise.
"It seems like a very good time for underground hip-hop," Halliday says, naming Odd Future and A$AP Rocky as counterculture acts that have found mainstream success. "This is an introduction to something beyond the mixtape world. [SGP] has certain elements that could be mainstream, like Wu-Tang Clan and N.W.A. He's such a child of the '90s, and soaks up so much stuff that it comes through naturally."
Steps to enhance SGP's artistry began by putting him in a professional studio to buff up older tracks like "Been Fweago" and "Suck a Dick 2012," as well as to cut such newer songs as "Paranoid" and "Bringing the Phonk." The beats are still dank and the rhymes are as explicit as ever, but the resulting compilation is a testament to SGP's abilities beyond mere production or wordplay. "I'm not just a rapper making music-I really love making music as a passion," he says. "I just want to show that I can give the best lyrically and that I'm a real rapper."
Following the new album's release, SGP plans to roll out "high-end" videos with far better production value than his previous clips. This summer, he'll tour Europe with Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller, play other gigs with Sacramento, Calif., thrashcore band Trash Talk and stream a recently recorded studio jam as part of his new label's ongoing "4AD Sessions" series. The professionally shot session is expected to draw new fans, as well as SGP's usual following.
"I hope people take time to enjoy the fact that they can actually hear what I'm saying," SGP says. "I'm not rapping about simple things that people hear all the time. I'm rapping about a lot of stuff. And I just tell people to enjoy it."