By Caitlin LoPilato

Chicago’s SaveMoney collective is having a moment.

Chance the Rapper’s third commercial project is charting, Sterling Hayes released his Antidepressant mixtape a few weeks ago, and Vic Mensa’s long-awaited debut album is around the corner. But the collective’s latest big release comes from Joey Purp, whose iiidrops mixtape is out today.

With the Chance-assisted single “GIRLS @” leading the way, iiidrops is a revelatory team effort. Purp recruited Chicago artists Mick Jenkins, Saba, OddCouple, Peter Cottontale, Donnie Trumpet, Thelonious Martin, Vic Mensa, and Knox Fortune for the tape. The wealth of Chicago perspective on iiidrops is no accident. These are songs written in the city’s violent last few years—from grappling with the emotional abuse felt from Chiraq’s broken neighborhoods to scouting out girls reading Ta-Nehisi Coates in the club, this is what it’s like to live and create in Chicago.

We caught up with the SaveMoney founding member to talk about becoming a better person through music, the challenges of staying close with SaveMoney, and showing love to rappers on the internet.

Tell me about the name for your project, iiidrops. Where did that come from and why did you choose that spelling?
I originally chose the name iiidrops as sort of a play on words. Eyedrops are commonly used to clear your eyes out when there’s something impairing your vision, so it came from the idea that the music is clearing everyone’s consciousness and their palette.

You’ve shown an interest in spirituality through a lot of your music. Can you speak on that?
It was my admiration for Eastern philosophy in general that led me to even put that kind of stuff in my music, but as I got older and became more conscious of different belief structures, I couldn’t really say there was a “right” one. It’s really just the idea of centering yourself and dedicating time and energy into perfecting yourself in any way. That was the main factor in my belief structure that may tie to types of religions and things like that.

What makes this project a reflection of how you’ve grown as both a person and an artist?
It’s obviously better, plain and simple. It’s just better than anything I’ve done before. But also, I think it’s a deeper conversation. The things I’m saying are more developed, which is a reflection of me becoming a more developed person. That’s the main thing—I’m just better.

What do you mean by “better”?
I’m more centered, I’m less selfish, I have a daughter. All around, I would like to hope that I’m more focused. I think I’ve become a better person in general, so I think the music is more concentrated and less scatterbrained.

There’s a line that you rap on this project, that you’re “tired of fickle fans who don’t understand my new direction.” What do you mean by that?
I’ve made “turn-up songs” with trap beats and shit, and that’s because that’s our generation—that’s our color palette. Those are the textures of the times. And there were a lot of people who were speaking down on me because I was supposed to be championing this hip-hop shit. My album’s a pure rap album, you know? There were fickle people who didn’t really have faith in the fact that we can do whatever we want. We don’t have to be boxed in.

When you hear those comments, does it affect you?
Nah, I ignore that shit. They’re tripping. They’re outdated, and natural selection is going to kill off people like that. In 2116, we’re gonna be a way better race because people like that won’t survive. You know what I mean? Hating is like, a recessive gene. You shouldn’t even spend time doing shit like that.

Hating is like, a recessive gene. You shouldn’t even spend time doing shit like that.

There’s been a lot of music coming out of Chicago this month, particularly from SaveMoney. Was this planned?
No. This is more of a culmination of conversations we had when we were children. At this point, it’s unspoken. We put our foot on the gas a long time ago, and now it’s coming into fruition because we’re all getting bigger and better. It feels like the universe is gearing up to let us have a moment. It feels like the gates are opening.

 Is it hard for you guys to stay in contact?
Hell yeah. Not because of relationship strains, but just because of scheduling. Up until a week or two ago, me, Vic, and Chance were all supposed to drop our projects on the same day. We all knew we were finishing our projects, but we were so into working on it that we never stopped to ask, “Wait, when did you say you were dropping yours?” We had to be like, “Wait, wait, wait.”

That would’ve been crazy.
It would’ve been raw, honestly. But we had to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day. We might do that in the future, though, now that we’ve explored it as a thing mentally.

There are a lot of contributors from Chicago on iiidrops. Was it important to you to bring in lots of artists from your city?
It wasn’t a conscious decision initially, but it is important for me, and for all of us really, to work with friends. Chicago’s so big, but it’s so small. It wasn’t like pulling favors—these are my friends. Regardless if it was someone from home team, like Knox [Fortune], who I see every day, or someone like Mick [Jenkins] or Saba, where it’s like, we’re from the same city and we’ve known each other since we were teenagers. We all know each other, so it wasn’t really an effort to make it about Chicago, but I just hit up people who I think are really talented and who I could trust.

Up until a week or two ago, me, Vic, and Chance were all supposed to drop our projects on the same day.

As an artist, when you find someone on SoundCloud or something who you want to work with, would you reach out to them?
Yo, hell yeah. I’m so happy you asked that. I’ve showed my friends so many people who were poppin’ who eventually took off, and it’s crazy because I was never in a position to do anything about it. But when I started making music, I realized I could connect with these people. D.R.A.M. was one of the first people—when I heard “Cha Cha” it had 30,000 plays or something. I reached out to him and told him it was dope, and now he’s the homie. I’m a super fan of reaching out to people I fuck with. It’s love because people recognize people who recognize them.

Isn’t it awesome that the internet allows us to make connections so easily like that?
I’m not a huge fan of being a rapper. A lot of this shit is trivial. But the best part to me is that you can say things to the point where people start listening and you develop a voice. And once your voice is loud enough, you can say things to other people that mean something. Strangers tweet these people every day saying that they’re cool, but if somebody that has a respected voice says it, it seems to mean more. That’s a really cool thing.

When you say you’re not a huge fan of being a rapper—is there anything else you’d want to do?
I’ve been thinking about it. I don’t want to jinx it, but I’m super into design, on a clothing level, and architecture aesthetically. Ideally, I’d love to start some sort of design or style firm. Now that I’ve amassed the resources and contacts to get the wheels turning, it’d be cool to create something where other people can create things that they otherwise wouldn’t have the means to.

Stream iiiDrops in full below.