Joey Purp’s latest album couldn’t come soon enough. Quarterthing, Purp’s debut studio project, released on Friday, September 6, a date chasing the heels of yet another Chicagoland tragedy. On the preceding Wednesday, the Chicago Sun Times reported that 19-year-old Delmonte Johnson was killed in the Stony Island Park neighborhood.
Details around the shooting are scarce, at least publicly, but the occurrence is another reminder of Chicago’s plight. The northeastern Illinois city is regularly reported in crime statistics and has seen an upswing in gun violence over the last half decade.
Still, Johnson’s murder is particulalry sobering. He was an active member of his community, fighting to stave off gun violence through service with the group GoodKids MadCity. What’s more is that his death has been foretold by countless hip-hop albums from area natives who regularly capture Chicago’s struggle through song.
Quarterthing is the latest area project to try and deal with Chicago’s most infamous characteristic. Purp, who grew up 30 minutes north of Stony Island Park was witness to the same brand of violence that took Johnson’s life.
“I know we still alive but I wake up to bullets flying/ Homicides, my daughter crying/ Ambulances speeding past pray none of my niggas died,” Purp spits over the gospel tinged “24K Gold/Sanctified”. Beginning as a recollection of Purp’s brushes with violence, the track ends staring into the sky, praying the for clarity to push through trying times.
Though the rest of the album plays more as a showcase for Purp than an outlet for Chicago’s pain – admittedly “Aw Shit” is a solid juke cut that features a staple sound from Chicago hip-hop – the trio of Purp, Ravyn Lenae and Jabari Rayford on “24K Gold/Sanctified” continues the collaborative tradition that fueled activists like Johnson. No one knows Chicago better than the natives. Johnson’s love for his city led him to be directly involved with cleaning up Chicago’s most notorious problem.
The battle is far from over, but with the sonic backdrop and calls to action from artists like Purp, Chicago continues to build the support system it needs to enact change.
Quarterthing is available for purchase and streaming today.