Miami-born producer and MC SpaceGhostPurrp aka Muney Jordan aka SGP aka SPVCXGHXSTPVRRP is the leader of the online collective Raider Klan (or RVIDXR KLVN) and Mysterious Phonk is the first commercial release by any of the Klan. Having recently risen to prominence thanks to his work alongside A$ap Rocky and his A$ap Mob, Mysterious Phonk is very much the hip-hop/rap record one might therefore expect, and, similar to Rocky, it's also one undercut by some of the hottest "hypnagogic" beats around.
Consequently Mysterious Phonk is a bridge LP, linking the stepping rhythms and woozy bass codes of the Tri Angle label with SGP's laid back stream and his own take on the cut-and-paste aesthetics of DJ Screw. A prolific mixtape maker, Mysterious Phonk thus chronicles SGP's best moments to date, re-recording and remixing some in terms of fidelity for this label debut.
Simply, the results are often impressive. On "Get Yah Head Bust" there are trace remnants of the genre that used to be known as witch house. Bass drone and harsh snare cracks combine with compressed screams and a liquid dose of crunk - SGP taking the opportunity to put forth a heavily manipulated vocal. The 7+ minute "No Evidence" also stands out courtesy of an atmospheric glockenspiel/xylophone line that clashes nicely with the muffled automatic fire of the drum machine.
Beat selection aside however there are two major discussion points to address. SGP is used to being the figurehead of Raider Klan but he has grander ambitions still, elevating himself into an altogether loftier category on several occasions. "Osiris Of The East" kicks off the grandiose imagery as, amid the track's deep rumbles and foreign organ selection, SGP's spoken-word rap implores the listener to "pray to me". This eyebrow-raising self-deification reaches its climax during the arresting cut "The Black God". SGP's rap is smooth and cohesive with the glitchy keys. There are nods too to Wu-Tang Clan/ RZA with its late-night stoner beats, but it's the sentiment of the "blaspheming" which hits home most. On one level you have mere ego-tripping, but the positive message "stay true to yourself, love yourself, believe in yourself, and you will be your own god" would seem to take the track's intent in a different direction. Moreover, it would seem to place SGP as some kind of prophet delivering these truths.
Then there's the second point of contention. It doesn't take a genius to point out hip-hop's reliance on cliché and SGP ostensibly ticks a lot of trite boxes here. It's all about the Benjamins on "Mystikal Maze" for example (a track in which an evocative underlay draws direct musical comparison with Clams Casino/ Evian Christ). The potty-mouthed braggadocio synonymous with the genre similarly remains throughout.
With greater attention to detail however these conceptions are partially flipped. SGP patently isn't a fan of cliché culture ("Ain't life hard when your *** broke" he spits over a whip-crack beat and blended bells on "Been Fweago") so we have to assume his rampant objectification of women falls within the same masked category of being deliberately misleading in order to make a point. Still, it's difficult to parse the argument when "Suck A **** 2012" and its bleary sci-fi beats are but satin bedding for a porn script. "Grind On Me" may raid classic West Coast jams for its low-riding vibe, but its aggressive sexual demands muddy the water at best, just as the less successful "Elevate" seems to have inadvertently left a very adult movie rolling during its druggy mix. "Bringing The Phonk" too houses some orgiastic material in with its electrical interference and heavy bass drops. Clearly this sort of thing isn't without precedent, but it gets interesting all the same when we first consider his Black God message and then his jarring blend of the derogatroy and "goddesses".
Either way there's some magnificent moments here despite a relatively anonymous tail-end running order. "Don't Give A Damn" bucks this trend as its bass drops mingle with high-end key repeats and a stepping drum machine rip. It's the perfect atmosphere for a guest Klan member to step in and switch up the tempo. Minutes earlier however Mysterious Phonk looked to be limping to a close. "Paranoid", which lands a bit like a Faithless b-side on which Maxi Jazz is losing a battle to killer weed, is unnecessary and the hour-long album could probably have also done without "Danger" - unremarkable make-out music that "Raider Prayer" improves thanks to a woozy synth line and echo-patterned clap.
All things considered though Mysterious Phonk is a collection more intelligent than most. It's beat palette and samples are diverse, interesting and bang on trend. It contains outright moments of excellence in fact. Yet, its lyrics and simple rhyme are more questionable, but open-minded appraisal explains away most of these concerns. When push comes to shove, if Mysterious Phonk weren't so overlong, it's be a very fine manifesto indeed.
Advised downloads: "The Black God" and "Don't Give A Damn".