Rory Ferreira is a shark. His bars are vicious and majestic, and as an artist he is never stagnant. I could spend 1,000 words describing all the past and current projects that Ferreira has undertaken. Instead, let’s just agree that the breadth of his work expands like the universe—all-encompassing, yet still uncovering new territory on every release.
His 2020 release came in mid-March, or just around the time the US began to implode with outbreaks of COVID-19 and the surrounding panic that a pandemic may bring. The record wasn’t prescient to the global catastrophe except when considering the sudden need for great music to keep us going.
Purple Moonlight Pages is the first LP since R.A.P. Ferreira hung up his old moniker, milo. He’s still the same great MC, spitting satisfying rhymes across these 18 tracks co-produced by The Jefferson Park Boys and featuring just two guests named Mike. References from Adventure Time to The Wire to Hamlet are easter eggs for listeners to comb gleefully through, not to mention how frequently he builds upon his own folklore.
After introducing himself and the PMP cast of players, “GREEN” kicks off the album in earnest. The title and emerald motif is a signal of life, invoked “as we tend to grow/Tend to matters of hope, tend to be tender.” The sparse melody on “U.D.I.G.” is one of the most iconic from the effort, along with the dreamy fog of “AN IDEA IS A WORK OF ART,” and “LEAVING HELL,” where Ferreira, braced by a reliable horn, sings a measure, not unlike MF Doom did on “That’s That.”
“Doldrums” left a permanent mark with its late stanza asking if we can find humanity, comprised of difficulties, jubilee, revelry, freedom, and spirit. These are universal questions that have the power to reflect one’s own imperfections and fallacies. “Just kick back and inherit the world…”
In the short story “I Stand Here Ironing,” the routine of the titular chore encourages the narrator’s mind to wander. It is a rich story, and I’m sure my tenth grade English teacher would roast me for only ever invoking it as an example of the psychological power of menial work. Yet it becomes relevant again on “Laundry,” where Ferreira floats through his house, collecting dirty clothes and remarking on so much more in the process.
How frequently are we simply wading through our experiences? It takes trauma to snap us out of the daze, such as when George Floyd was murdered and protests flared up through our broken nation. Then interest fades. Or we cling to the names that we insist we respect, but monetizing Breonna Taylor’s name, face, and death is beyond disrespectful. Ferreira included lyrics about being “a tagline on a bodybag” in reference to his late friend, Rob Espinosa, but the sentiment is too often relevant. It leads us to numbness then complacency, then we wait for the next trauma.
This entire album reminds me that we don’t have to wait for trauma to keep us arm in arm. This is not an album about hope any more than the average milo output, but the small hints on PMP fuel my love for it. After all, the world isn’t going to be the same as what it was like when this was being recorded, which stretched back to January 2018 at the oldest track. No, this was an unintentional transition and one that makes me a little less anxious about what the future may hold.