Oct 12, 2015

#InCaseYouMissedItMonday: Innocent Country - @QuelleChris; A Niles P. Joint

  There is no one in the game that quite sounds like Quelle Chris. This is paramount because comparisons are rampant in Hip Hop, no matter how much I try to avoid them as a writer.  So when I listened to Innocent Country, his new album produced entirely by Chris Keys, I received the proverbial breath of fresh air.  Hearing his work on Jean Grae’s iSweatergawd was a good appetizer of his talents.  Listening to this album proves that the Detroit native is in a class of his own.  One of the best musical attributes of Quelle Chris is that he can rap over beats other than his own.  It plagues other rapper/producers (Kanye much?) but Quelle Chris made a great choice in working with Chris Keys.  The two Christophers compliment each other musically and share the spotlight well.  
The Lite FM-like piano of the instrumental intro “Freedom and Fear” provide a smooth segue into “Where The Wild Things Roam” which is an off kilter & gravelly track that also relies on the keys.  “We Want It Alive” gives me shades of a Dilla influence.  The jittery yet focused track includes verses from Fresh Daily and Cavalier, forming a great three piece combo.  The flow shifts on “Well Running Deep” and includes divine strings that are reminiscent of the soul samples heard in early 2000’s hip hop.  They are juxtaposed against Quelle Chris’ fidgety flow.  The outro sets up “Madness in the Oasis” which sounds like the music that plays when you face a boss in an old school video game with its haunting organs and taunting disembodied voice.  “The Ones To Watch” warns the listener about the voices of the rumor mill using muted organs and dirty drums.  
“Nothing Moves” is more somber yet slick material.  “Murphy’s Law” laments the old adage of things going wrong “just as it was just getting good” and includes an appearance from Denmark Vessey.  It’s one of the best and most relatable songs on the album, possibly my favorite.  “Drugfest TooThousandToo” veers into experimental territory and talks about various drugs over a screeching violin.  It’s skippable but  sets the stage the next song “The Plan,” a wonderful cornucopia of sounds (the guitar is exquisite) that features subtle anti-drug lyrics.  Denmark Vessey returns to help out.  Things get very self-reflective on “The Mirror,” an interlude that features Big Sen delivering a monologue over a slow piano.  The keys speed up and seamlessly transition into “I Asked God” which is a masterpiece and one of the best rap songs of the year.  Quelle Chris successfully experiments with his flow and literally talks to God on this song.  It personifies the album inasmuch as it’s witty and unlike anything that’s been attempted.  

Innocent Country is definitely hip hop but you might go mad trying to put it into any kind of a sub-genre besides indie.  It’s a hodgepodge of sounds, really.  But the thing is they all work together in spite of each other.  Quelle Chris represents for the wonderful weirdos in rap and with help from Chris Keys cooks up an avant-garde rap album that’s still listenable and accessible.  Lyrically the themes are relatable to a casual fan which gives the album replay value while still keeping with an innovative sound.  It’s the type of project that makes you want to further explore Quelle Chris' discography.  You're not going to hear anything remotely like Innocent Country all year.  Take a trip deep into left field and catch this one off the wall.  
Niles Cavanaugh
Niles Cavanaugh

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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