The New York label has been releasing some of the most exciting music from US underground and experimental scenes. Kiana Mickles traces its roots.
The outlet's acronym stands for Purple Tape Pedigree, a reference to Raekwon's solo album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, famously dubbed the "The Purple Tape" due to its original purple cassette pressing in 1995. Over the past decade, the New York label has been a stronghold for some of the DIY scene's most ingenious talents, bringing on a coterie of producers, vocalists and rappers making emotive and confrontational noise, hip-hop, folk, industrial and experimental club music. Outside of PTP's excellent stream of releases, the platform is likely best known for its live performance series, Silent Weapons, which has also functioned as a fundraiser event for various prison abolition and immigrant rights non-profits in recent years. The label's anything-goes attitude to genre is as central to its ethos as its commitment to community-building. During my conversations with its varied members and affiliates, I gathered the sense that I'm not speaking to your average label but something more akin to a family.
Carrying about three decades of experience in DJing, producing and promoting under his belt, Geng is a hip-hop head in the most traditional sense. He grew up in uptown Manhattan during the promising rise of hip-hop, where the club-oriented jams of '80s freestyle artists like Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, The Cover Girls and Stevie B had just begun to drift through New York stereos.
When I spoke to him earlier that week, Geng named Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It," and Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock's "It Takes Two" as two tracks that made him restless for more hip-hop as an early listener. In those days, he'd aimlessly surf through radio channels on his WALKMAN or race home after school to catch Video Music Box, the first American music television series to primarily showcase hip-hop videos. When Friday and Saturday nights rolled around, he'd diligently listen to local radio stations Kiss FM and 107.5 WBLS, where New York DJs Marly Marl, Mr. Magic and Kool DJ Red Alert would regularly throw down the hottest hip-hop records. "The mix shows were crazy," he said. "A lot of my DJ roots come from just growing up with that in my ear."