If Joey Purp hasn’t already convinced you he’s one of Chicago rap’s best stylists, his new Quarterthing (self-released) should do the job. He bares his teeth on “Godbody Pt. 2” (which supersizes grimy 90s beats and features the RZA) before draping his AutoTuned voice with screams on “Karl Malone,” a minimal callback to—and evolution of—the feral turn-up tracks he made as half of the duo Leather Corduroys. And he almost whispers his verses on “Elastic,” a track on which a slinking club instrumental and rumbling iceberg-tip bass line threaten to consume his vocals but wind up bolstering his coolheaded affectation. With this album, Joey not only pushes back against any notion that he must follow a preordained map to be successful, he does so while pulling Chicago up with him. Outsiders will always build gates around artists and their perceived communities, but on Quarterthing Joey reaches out beyond those obviously associated with his Save Money collective to collaborate with spitfire MC Cdot Honcho (“Look at My Wrist”) and bawdy, empowering rapper Queen Key (“Fessional/Diamonds Dancing”). And in a year when Teklife wunderkind DJ Taye has dropped Still Trippin, an album that brought hip-hop and footwork closer together, Joey adds to that endeavor with “Aw Sh*t!,” which is built on several historical footwork patterns and samples.
Earlier this decade, opener ZMoney showed how Chicago rappers could push back against the dominance of drill with a mass of low-key trap songs that hung on his mush-mouthed rapping and lackadaisical cool. His career stalled out in 2014, when he wound up spending a significant part of the year in jail, but after quietly grinding away out of the spotlight, ZMoney got back on track in 2018; in January he signed to 1017 Eskimo, the label run by one of his obvious influences, Gucci Mane. On last month’s Chiraq Mogul, ZMoney remains as exciting as ever, particularly his cold, pulse-altering flow on “Bitcoin.” v