I DID NOT LIKE QUELLE CHRIS. His voice is a tough hang (He makes fun of it on his new album Innocent Country 2) and he’s funny enough that I never knew how seriously to take him. All of the artists I love, love him. Feature after feature kept stacking up and eventually it broke me. Billy Woods commented on Quelle Chris shining brightly on Frida off the new Armand Hammer album Shrines, said he swagged all over that. I cocked my head like a confused dog and said “That’s true.”
When an artist you are not into stacks up guest wins on other artists songs it is time to genuinely re-approach them, steps: 1. Shed everything you think you know 2. Listen to their latest album. I learned a lot on Innocent Country 2.
Quelle Chris has the intense power of groove. Some talented rappers never find the melody let alone find the right phrase or the right theme to surf it. Quelle does it all without running out of steam. The album is over an hour long and one of the years easiest listens. He’s so powerfully conceptual without any suggestion of tension in his delivery, every song he touches pays off without you worrying if it will.
Chris Keys brings in the Lean on Me feel via piano and background voices to make the musical half of the Mirage experience as boldly spiritual as the narrators of the song. Big Sen ,during his spoken word portion at the end, says “security is largely a superstition” and the song reclaims that truth from the grips of those who would label it pessimistic or negative. Earl Sweatshirt and Denmark Vessey take their verses and kick things into high gear, upping the seriousness but Quelle makes you work for it. He starts the song with a killer Scooby Doo line and ends it by explaining life as we understand it ,and our secure place within it, are a mirage.
He’s a unique character and that’s why the beat always fits him and the guests come easy. Mirage is a spiritual homage to staying ready as things crumble and it couldn’t be improved. If I hadn’t started over and jumped back into Quelle Chris world, I would have missed one of the years best songs. Cheers to stepping through self-created mirages.