Shrouded in all-black swag, SpaceGhostPurrp can be a seriously mysterious dude. And from the very moment he began haunting the Internet's music blogs in the late winter of 2011, this enigmatically spooky Miami rapper has been carefully cultivating a cryptic mystique.
His rhymes sound like the sudden verbal outbursts of a psychedelic street hustler on synthetic THC. His Twitter posts and Facebook status updates are routinely rendered in a semisecret language that substitutes letters and numbers for geometric shapes and arcane symbols. His official biography is a mystical maze of mixed messages, twisted fiction, and hard fact.
At the peak of this myth-making, there were even some skeptics who suspected that SpaceGhostPurrp didn't exist outside the digital realm. But over the past few months, the man behind spectral mixtapes such as NASA and Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6 has slowly started to reveal himself. And here are some of the verifiable details: (1) He is 21 years old, (2) he hails from Carol City, (3) he is the founder and figurehead of a shadowy organization known as the Raider Klan, (4) he recently signed a record deal with revered British indie label 4AD, and (5) he will drop his debut full-length slab, The Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp, Tuesday.
Hoping to deepen our understanding of SGP, New Times sought 60 minutes of face time with this self-described "underrated rapper from the '90s" who wasn't even born till 1991. And after a dizzying series of emails, phone calls, and texts, we finally arranged a meet with Purrp and his crew at a Pembroke Pines park where the rapper can often be found "enjoyin' the wind, lovin' life, just chillin'."
"This is a peaceful area. I always take my girls here, ya feel me. We come after dark. And that's the infamous bench over there," Purrp smirks, pointing at a large green picnic table with a romantic view of a manmade canal. "When the ducks see me and my ladies comin', they run away," he snickers.
Back in the day, circa 2010-11, the Ghost spent his long days, late nights, and spare hours wandering around Carol City, making beats in his bedroom, and kicking it with homies, a "couple chicks," and a few 40-ouncers of "Heineken, Budweiser, Corona." But lately he's either been road-tripping for out-of-town gigs, keeping it low-profile in Pembroke, or drifting around Dade County like some kinda swagged-out nomad. "My mom stay out here in the Pines now," he explains. "So I'm visitin' my mama. But I still be in Miami most of the time. Or I be in my neighborhood. You know, I'm in the city, seein' people, doin' things, gettin' work done.
"I'm leaving Friday, though," he adds. "'Cause I gotta go to London." It's the beginning of a transcontinental trek that's part of his promotional push for Chronicles, a 14-track album packed with reworked mixtape tracks such as "Tha Black God" and "Suck a Dick 2012" as well as new cuts like "No Evidence" and "Raider Prayer."
Over a period of two weeks, the Ghost and his gang will wild out with crowds in England, France, and Amsterdam. "This is gonna be my first time in Europe. I never did much travelin'. And I can't wait to get out there," he says, nodding. "I got a lot of fans in London. And my peeps at 4AD wanted me to go show them love. So that's what I'm gonna do."
But even with a British record label, a generally rootless existence, and a heavy dose of the jet life in his immediate future, Purrp remains a fanatically hard-core representative for Miami rap. "Still a fan of the Bawse. Still backin' Trick Daddy. Still got respect for Trina," he confirms, shouting out a few of the 305's boldest names. "But I feel like we need more new talent too. There are more SpaceGhostPurrps. We got more people like me.
"I'm talkin' about Metro Zu. That's my homies. And you got Denzel Curry, Yung Simmie, Yung Renegade, CCM, Harvey G, Lil Champ Fway, Junko," he says, rattling off a swag-centric shortlist of Miami's rising spitters. "There's a lot of rappers comin' outta this city. It's crazy."
He pauses, cocks his head, and then compares the MIA's surging scene to the others that have recently exploded in New York and Cali. "You know, outside Miami, [NYC's] A$AP Rocky and [L.A.'s] Odd Future doin' their thing. They respect what we do, and we respect what they do," Purrp insists. "But once everybody in our city come together, this shit gonna be outta control.
"I'm already bringing the hood together. 'Cause Carol City got they little beefs, ya know what I'm sayin'," he says. "But we just tryin' to unite and stop all this fake shit in the game."
That's the bane of SpaceGhostPurrp's existence: fucking fakery. And eliminating the liars is his mission. For him, rap and life is all about staying true, honest, and real. "When I say fake," he snarls, "I just mean people tryin' to portray theyselves as somethin' they not, instead of just being who they was in the beginning. It's livin' a lie. And I ain't gonna come out pretendin' to be no killer, no drug dealer, no thug, no goon if I know I ain't livin' it.
"The fakes... Now I ain't gonna say no names, but they know who they is," he seethes. "I could say, 'Nigga, you know who you is,' and whoever gets mad is guilty. 'Cause what's in the dark come to light. And lies catch up.
"It's just my message for the kids. They need to be theyselves. That's how [Odd Future's] Tyler won [MTV's Video Music Award for Best New Artist] when he first came out. He was being Tyler and nobody else.
"Like, I'm me. Just Purrp," he blurts. "And I was always the type to be into dark shit. I was into metal, skating, painting my middle fingernail black. Just on some gothic thing. I was always that weird-ass nigga.
"But I came from a dark past. So I can do that shit. You know, I don't do it for no fashion. That's just real."
And another force for realness in his war against "lying fucking fakes" is Raider Klan, that aforementioned shadowy organization over which Purrp reigns like a benevolent black god. "It's basically a bunch of young kids that has unique talent," he explains. "We been through a lot of shit. We taken trips to hell and back. And we comin' together as rebels dressed in all black to make a difference in the game, get that real shit goin', and fight to keep fake motherfuckers out the circle."
Raider membership is mostly limited to family, friends, and musicians in Miami, because this "fucked-up city" breeds the darkness that binds the clan. "Miami is evil, man. It's hell," Purrp explains. "And people don't know. They see South Beach, palm trees, and shit. But that's not the real city. People don't know the dark side of this place.
"I got lucky 'cause my mom moved out when she got her money right. But I know if I was still in Carol City all the time, I'd be fucked up right now."
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And this sense of doom isn't just some vague interpretation of atmospheric omens. It's straight out of Purrp's own personal experience. He's witnessed poverty, crime, death. "Everything I seen growing up, the things I been through in my life, mentally and emotionally, I put it all in my music.
"You know, me and my brother started Raider Klan," he says, tapping his chest in remembrance of his late best friend and surrogate sibling, Ladarius "Y.M.F. Jitt" Frazer, a 17-year-old aspiring rapper murdered during a dice game at Miami Gardens' Carol City Park on March 13, 2010. "We was runnin' around with the concept before he passed away. We had a vision. We had a dream. But he just ended up on the wrong path... It woulda been five years since we started this thing."
The sun dips below the horizon, black clouds clog the darkening sky, and the Ghost slips into silence for a few seconds. "But this shit is for life, man. We a fuckin' clan. And anybody got a fuckin' problem, they get their head fucked up. For real," he boasts. "We come in peace. We don't start shit. But we family. And we ready to ride for each other 'cause we been through too much.
"This is about realness. I wanna show the people that I am what I rap about," Purrp intones with eerie intensity. "I am Raider Klan. I am 'Tha Black God.' I am black. I am God. I am God's son. This is not a gimmick. This is who I am. This is SpaceGhostPurrp."