Live: Spaceghostpurrp Turns Raps Into Dubs And ASAP Rocky Has A Ball At Santos Party House


ASAP Rocky w/ Spaceghostpurrp
Santos Party House
Thursday, September 8

Better than: The Santos Party House takeover of Saks 5th Avenue earlier that evening. (Apologies to Chris Bosh.)

At 1:30 Friday morning—three and a half hours after the scheduled start time—Spaceghostpurrp emerged onto the Santos Party House stage, barely visible through the artificial fog. For his part, Spaceghost, coming from Miami by way of the internet, wasn’t immediately identifiable among his stage full friends but emerged as the maxed-out bassline that appears 45 seconds into “Been Fweago” (or if you prefer, “BXXN FWXVOG”), a deep cut from the mixtape Blvcklvnd Rvdix 66.6 (1991) sputtered out of the speakers.

It was rap by way of dub, that massive, distorted bassline exulting in the seams of the recording, burrowing out the cracks in its façade. Standing in Santos, trying to make sense of the performance, I couldn’t help but recall the 1995 Wire cover essay on Tricky’s Maxinquaye in which Ian Penman suggests, “Dub’s sub-sonic echo is no mere FX—it is the effect proper of a certain subjective view of the world: the dark sonic mirror reflection of Rasta’s phantasmal worldview.” Of course, despite his love of ganja, Spaceghostpurrp is no Rasta (and the disposable medium of choice has turned from the acetate record to 128 kbps mp3, but the attitude remains the same). “’90s in the bitch,” he exclaimed, promising to take us “back to the Tunnel” with “Get Yah Head Bust.” But this was a dub, off-kilter ’90s, everything more evil and more screwed than originally remembered.

Fitting, then, that he finished his set with a tune that was Screwed literally, slowed down in the manner of the profilic Houston DJ, and the perfect segue into the screwed chorus of ASAP Rocky’s country rap-influenced “Purple Swag.” Although ASAP hails from Harlem and made clear his intention to put his hometown back on the map (for the first time since Dipset, he claimed), his music reflects rap’s post-regional state nearly as well as Purrp’s, with lyrics incorporating Southern slang like “trill shit” (a phrase that might double as a Mac Dre reference) and his melodic drawl recalling, among others, Cash Money-era Curren$y.

New Orleans was well represented last night, with Purrp playing his twisted tribute to early ’90s bounce music “Suck A Dick For 2011” and ASAP, after warning all “cute girls in heels” to step to the back, shouted out Master P’s “Bout It, Bout It” before going in on his own “Peso,” taking us down to the Crescent City but also bringing us back to New York, where eight years ago his Dipset forefathers joined Master P to record the third installment of the song for Diplomatic Immunity.

ASAP Rocky’s strongest Dipset connection, however, might have been the legion of friends and crew with whom he crowded the stage. Throughout his short set these friends hugged him, danced around him, stage dove en masse and, when necessary, took over the mic. This giddiness, its own sort of ’90s throwback, proved to be one of the night’s most consistent entertainments, the perfect complement to ASAP more low-key tunes, offering enough energy to keep us awake to the end.

Critical bias: Would rather have had ASAP Rocky open for Spaceghostpurrp, but I can’t complain.

Overheard: “What’s the sunrise on September 9?”

Random notebook dump: Oh yeah, Drake was there.