I don’t think there was a song that was more summer in uptown NYC Bronx/Harlem in the mid-to late 2000s than Purple City Byrd Gang, whether it was blasting from car speakers or being one of the main elements that started a fist fight at a house party I remember. The song is unmistakable from the moment the ominous and captivating beat hits in the beginning. Sheist Bubz’s opening verse is absolutely savage and an all-time classic that perfectly capture of the gritty uptown imagery and swagger of the time; every line from it is a hard hitter from him saying to go ahead and let the fiends into the traphouse, to being a 10th grader going from varsity letterman to getting involved in interstate trafficking and hopping on a bus to Maryland (presumably either Peter Pan or Grehyound). “Nah I ain’t worrying, send shots and they scurrying, transactions we hurried them, bastards we buried ’em, in the belly of the beast there’s Sheist the Barbarian,” he triumphantly declares at the end. Perhaps the only thing that can overshadow the sheer brutality and bravado of his verse is the 3XL purple Dickies work shirt that he’s sporting with purple Dickies workpants and a purple Yankees hat.
I wasn’t expecting to have two Jim-Jones related posts two days in a row here, but when I woke up this morning I was pleasantly surprised to see Purple City Byrd Gang was seemingly out of nowhere getting some buzz on Twitter from a variety of sources after a tweet from Andrew Barber of Fake Shore Drive, one of my all-time favorite blogs that has introduced me to a lot of music from Chicago I would have otherwise slept on, who boldly and correctly declared, ‘Purple City Byrd Gang video better than Thriller.’
I could not agree more emphatically with Andrew. Even besides for the epic opener from Sheist Bub and one of the Capo’s hardest verses of all time to close things out, you have the epic imagery of a white piano being played in the middle of the street on Amsterdam and 151st (by an unnamed Dipset affiliate who I must say channels a bit of Michael Jackson himself with that lavender fedora he’s confidently rocking along with an airbrushed tee which had briefly made a short-lived but memorable comeback at that time), Un Kasa snapping on the verse into a flip phone while rocking a Utah Jazz hat with their garish logo from the late 90s/early 2000s, the whole crew riding their BMX’s down the street in formation (is it just me or did a LOT of Dipset-related videos from back then involve BMX’s? I vaguely remember Cam’ron & Vado’s Push it to the Limit remake involving them all riding their bikes down the street), and then of course the closing salvo to end all finales, Jim Jones’ nightcap at the end…
“Now knock it off, the drama I pop it off, I cop shotties the noses I chop em off’ snarls Jim, as he appears on the scene flaunting a lavender umbrella that looks like it belongs in a mixed drink rather than sheltering him from the Harlem rain. I’m not sure how anyone could possibly sound/look hard while carrying a lavender parasol, but you know what? The stars aligned just right here and some how Jones was able to pull off the impossible. It might be one of the Capo’s hardest verses of all time.
I feel like the entire Dipset universe is enjoying a bit of a low-key revival right now as they transcend into classic status, and I couldn’t approve more wholeheartedly.