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Smokepurpp: Alt-rock adjacent

You would never expect Chicago-born, Miami-raised rapper Smokepurpp to be a fan of Taking Back Sunday.

With his new album Florida Jit fresh from the press featuring everyone from Lil Pump to Rick Ross, it may surprise some that the man behind the ‘Ski Mask’ is a big fan of alternative rock. Smokepurpp, of course, doesn’t find it surprising at all.

“Yeah, there’s like no such thing now”, he points out when asked about the supposed barriers between music scenes. He points to collaborations between Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, or even Young Thug and Elton John, as examples to prove his assertion, adding that he has intentions to collaborate with blackbear, another notable ‘fence-hopper’ between genres (see his collaboration with All Time Low).

Smokepurpp loves Arctic Monkeys, looks up to Travis Barker and even jams Mötley Crüe, cementing his care simply for anyone “that makes fire music.”

“I think today’s hip-hop has really taken on the punk movement”, he explains. “Me and Travis [Scott] and Uzi and so many others have really modelled our performances after punk artists. Moshpits, stage dives, stuff like that. It really makes performing fun. So I think the music has grown to what we like to perform.”

His referees, particularly Lil Uzi Vert, do embody what he talks about. Uzi has even approached Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams for a collaboration, which she turned down, despite him crediting her as one of his biggest musical influences. At the time, she cited not wanting to be that famous, prior to slowing down with Paramore and moving on to working on her solo album. Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker didn’t have the same concern, racking up a considerable list of guest appearances with artists like Run The Jewels, Lil Wayne, Vic Mensa and Machine Gun Kelly.

“We all need to keep pushing and fighting for our rights. Can’t stop and can’t forget about how we feel right now.”

Another thing Smokepurpp shares in common with punk is his ideology when it comes to fans. Speaking on his latest release, he denies having a goal that he wanted to kick out of the park at all with the album. “It was literally all about pleasing my fans”, he states. “And I think they loved it so I’m happy with it. I love the music, it was fun to record and work on.”

In the same vein as pleasing your audience and performing with your heart is the quality of the show you put on. Smokepurpp has toured considerably, but has plans once the lockdowns ease to tour Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Canada, America and Australia “all in 2021.” Of the last on that list, he describes a trip to Australia last year that represented a peak in time on the road.

“I remember this girl in the front row of my headlining show”, he recalls, “fighting the security and literally beating them up.” On her gall, he simply asserts this fact: “She’s a savage.”

“Honestly I never thought I’d say this”, he adds, “but I miss travelling. I love performing and doing shows for my fans so I knew that I’d miss that but even the travelling and seeing people all over the world I miss so much.”

Of course it’s not only the COVID-19 pandemic that made 2020 a defining year. Emerging out of the United States, the Black Lives Matter movement and its principle of fighting for injustice and equality has caught fire worldwide, with Smokepurpp urging that people don’t stop caring about it just because they have other things to think about once things get back to “normal”.

“I’m glad that everyone feels so passionately about it”, he comments. “I’ve seen people standing up for us all over the world. We all need to keep pushing and fighting for our rights. Can’t stop and can’t forget about how we feel right now. When we all get busy again after COVID we still need to be focused on creating change.”

On the macro-level, Smokepurpp is fighting the good fight. On a personal note, he plans to keep on working until he can tour again, and of course, until he can secure “all bags in 2021.”