The music of Rory Ferreira has seen quite the evolution since his debut mixtape in 2012. Under the moniker milo, he’s transitioned from a style of hip-hop tinged with nerdiness to now embracing art and jazz rap.

His side project Scallops Hotel was created to develop his more abstruse side, lyrically and in terms of production. He has made the leap from independent artist to founder of his own record label. Throughout his increasing success, he’s never sold out. In truth, it doesn’t even seem possible for him to sell out, for Rory has so firmly ingrained himself in his own niche. It hasn’t failed him yet. Recently, he’s given up the milo name and replaced it with R.A.P. Ferreira (literally Rory Allen Phillip Ferreira). Now he’s released his second album under this name, Purple Moonlight Pages, which only further solidifies his presence in the underground rap scene.

The album is profoundly mature, even for Rory’s standards. At his most nerdy, he always used immaturity as a tool. Now, his insertion of obscure references doesn’t oversaturate the project. The last few albums have seen him approach rap from a more philosophical and poetic angle, but Pages feels different. Whereas before, it seemed as though Ferreira was forcing himself to come to profound conclusions, this album lets the epiphanies arise through his experiences. This is apparent in how the songs are structured in relation to each other. The album doesn’t have any real overlying narrative to it. Each song is its own collection of ideas that comes and goes for the next collection of ideas to appear.

But make no mistake: The album is very cohesive. It’s akin to that one junk drawer we all have in the kitchen, where all the items have their own story, and the drawer itself is representative of these stories. A prime example of this is the track “LAUNDRY,” whose entire runtime is devoted to the process of doing laundry. As a result, he expresses his life at home. We get an understanding of the relationship he has with his family and how it affects his outlook. The song has a domestic charm. It stands alone, but it makes hearing the next story all the more enjoyable.

The cohesion of Purple Moonlight Pages is also largely thanks to the production of the Jefferson Park Boys, whose members include Carmack, Mike Parvizi and Kenny Segal. Their brilliant mix of esoteric and organic beats functions perfectly alongside Ferreira’s poetry. Often, it feels like being inside a hazy jazz club. There’s a diverse set of sounds being explored on the project: A song like “DUST UP” that could easily be an ambient track without the presence of Rory is paired close to the latin guitar-flavored beats on “ABSOLUTES.” Then there’s “U.D.I.G (UNITED DEFENDS OF INTERNATIONAL GOOD WILL),” a banger that has a Laurel Canyon sound but with twice as much acid involved. Nothing is off the table for them, which lends a sense of momentum.

If there is one thing Rory seems to be promoting on Purple Moonlight Pages, it’s his idea of what art should be. No better is this expressed than on the track “CYCLES,” where he talks about the difference between the underground and the mainstream, highlighting their respective priorities and how, at times, it feels like an uphill battle financially and in gaining the same amount of respect. With any other artist this would come across as bitter, but with Rory it’s sincere, as he says: “Swear I just know my worth, swear I just know my worth.” If anything, Rory seems happy with where he’s at. Sure, being underground versus mainstream means he has to fight a little more to keep going, but he’s also working to understand himself and the world more. The image of the struggling artist has become sensationalized at this point. Rory even admits to being a part of this trend. As he’s matured, he’s come to understand that struggling for the sake of struggling doesn’t produce better art. To him, art is about gaining knowledge. “No starvin’ artists, just artists starvin’ to know.”

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