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80purppp Sees The Bigger Picture on If Anything 

The Edmonton rapper/singer finds himself contemplating growing up and learning how to put the drama behind him. 

by Ben Boddez

Photo by Luqman Gaffoor

Twenty-year-old hip-hop and alt-R&B artist 80purppp may still be young, but his latest EP already finds him reflecting on his past and looking forward to a more mature future. Through eight tracks mostly based around a series of “what if?” questions, the project opens with the final song he wrote before stepping into the third decade of his life and seems to act like a chronological narrative, showing 80purppp’s growth and his changing attitudes towards dealing with petty relationship drama, handling the setbacks of his own pride, and not letting a swirling tide of fleeting emotions stop him from achieving his goals as he gets older.

With a hazy lo-fi sound, 80purppp steadily makes his way through some vibe-heavy, echoey sound palates full of slowly strummed guitar chords, improvised piano passages played by 80purppp himself, and elements of jazz – there’s even an extended sax solo. 80purppp’s rhymes are reflective, calm and conversational, almost resembling more of a poetry slam than a hip-hop track at times, while his singing voice is appropriately vulnerable to match the subject matter. Exorcising his demons and letting go of past grudges, If Anything feels like the portrait of an artist ready for an entirely new chapter.

We caught up with 80purppp below to talk about the inspirations behind the album’s narrative, James Bond and favourite local spots in his Edmonton hometown. 

What was the writing and recording process for this EP like?
Writing was challenging, but more rewarding than anything else I’ve written so far. It was like solving a really hard puzzle, over and over again. Recording was similar, but more intuitive.

Who have been some of your musical inspirations?
My musical inspirations are countless, honestly. They range so vastly, it feels unfair to mention just those who come to mind. Mac Miller is a huge inspiration of mine, as well as Drake, XXXTentacion, Ye, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, list goes on. My inspirations are likely some of yours too. 

What’s the Edmonton rap scene like? Do you have any favourite places in the city?
The Edmonton music scene is interesting, there’s a lot going on in different bubbles and circles. It can get rough out here on creatives though, sometimes it feels like there’s no support for the arts, but I don’t see that as an innately bad thing. I feel like my city is waiting for something that it can put its faith in. I love my city. There’s a lot of promising talent where I’m from, the world will see in time. Some of my favourite spots in the city are the Chili Hotpot on 104th Street (it’s the best hotpot in the city and I refuse to debate with anyone who says otherwise), Rogers place (whenever the Oilers play), and virtually any neighbourhood ODR (outdoor rink) in the winter. 

Hearing the raw piano tracks on “sketch #5” and “sketch #6” in the middle of all of this self-reflection made for some of the best moments here – how off-the-cuff and improvised were those and why did you decide to include them? Will we ever hear Sketches 1-4?
The sketches were all mainly off rip. I had the piano at my house mic’d up in a way I could record the keys and my vocals fairly separately. I decided to include some of them, because I thought it would deepen certain themes of the project. I want this project to help people understand me better, as well as themselves if all goes to plan. With this in mind, what better than to include my late night ramble at the piano, where all of this started. I’m always making new sketches, if people want to hear more of them, I’ll be happy to let them hear. 

What would you say is the overall message of the album? I took away that it was a story of time progressing, as you get older and learn not to hold grudges or get too held up on the petty stuff.
I’m not sure if I was focusing so hard on trying to send a specific message, but to confront what was real for me, where I’m at, in my own way. Your take away seems far from wrong though, that’s definitely an element that’s there, present in the project. Struggling with what maturity actually is, the pain of growing up, the constant lack of closure, having to grow with impurities, coming to terms with what’s real and its implications: I could go on and on about what there is to take away, but to me the best music always leaves some room for interpretation. 

The final track sees you musing on communication, getting past the little steps and overcoming your pride to get what you really want. What inspired you to make an EP on this subject?
I think what inspired me to write about things like pride and communication was realizing what’s really important to me. Pride, pettiness, etc, they’re all in the way. Like, I’ll cast away my pride if it means we can talk. Or, I’ll stop being petty if it means there’s still room for a connection. I think a part of me was also asking, like what’s more important to you? Your pride, or me? What’s more important? In the song I don’t receive an answer, much like in my life.

You drop a reference to Casino Royale on the tracklist – what about James Bond speaks to you? I feel like 007 might need to hear the advice on this album at times.
I had been living under a rock until earlier this year, when I decided to watch Casino Royale for the first time. I didn’t know immediately then that I’d try and capture some of that for this project, but I knew deep down I’d jump on any opportunity to draw from the film. I wanted to create the atmosphere of a hazy jazz club in a casino, in which the main character is falling into a trancelike intoxication. With the help of my producer and engineer, I referenced the scene in Casino Royale where 007 is poisoned. As far as what speaks to me about Bond himself, he’s pretty closed off to people that don’t know him, but he’s funny and sort of warm to those he does. It’s also hard to tell what he’s thinking.

This project is all about what ifs – what’s your #1 “what if” moment?
What if I made the basketball team in high school LOL. Seriously though, if I had made the team I probably would’ve never pursued music the way I am now. Making the team would have significantly changed the course of my life. Shout out to Coach Kuperus for cutting me. I appreciate you, big dog. 

What’s next for 80purppp? Anything else you’d like us to know?
If Anything is only a piece of the puzzle.