Quelle Chris - 'Guns' Album Review
The king of the wacky raps is back with yet another forray into abstract jazz-hip-hop, as Guns see’s Quelle Chris turning down some of his more absurd aspects in favour of some tighter focus, setting his aim on one target: America.
After his fantastic solo effort Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often and his eccentric collaboration with Jean Grae on last year's Everything's Fine I honestly couldn’t have been more excited for whatever Quelle Chris had coming next. To me he always fit into his own lane of hip-hop, focussing on neither lyricism or heavy beats but more on a consistent sound and weirdness to his music that never ceases to be compelling. On Guns, Quelle continues this pattern, with an album that is wonderful at crafting a unique sound, ranging from unsettling to uplifting to funny at a moments notice but all tied together with a singular goal, taking apart exactly what is making America the mess it currently is.
This is not epitomised better than on the patient title track ‘Guns’, in which Quelle dissects the ways in which people within the US are weaponized as well as the motivations behind using guns. The track does so with simplistic but potent rhyme schemes alongside Quelle’s distinctive delivery that set the tone early on what we are getting ourselves into. While this album as a whole laments on life in modern America, this doesn’t mean that every track needs to be all doom and gloom, as Guns carries an air of humour and satire that takes some of the weight off of what he’s saying. This combination of satire and dark subject matter can become sinister at points like on the brooding ‘PSA Drugfest 2003/Sleeveless Minks’ or on the evil-sounding ‘Obamacare’, featuring easily the best beat that Quelle has rapped over to date.
Another point of admiration across Guns comes from Quelle’s moody and jazzy production that sets the tone across most of this project. I always admire an artist that produces their own beats and while he does rely on the piano a little too heavily, Quelle really knows what kind of beats suit him well, as every track on here is muddied-up a bit to suit his grimy vocals. Beats like ‘Obamacare’ and ‘It’s The Law/Farewell Goodbye Addio, Uncle Tom’ are just perfectly creepy and suit Quelle’s poignant bars about law enforcement and healthcare in America eerily well. While a lot of the beats get a little samey when it comes the plodding drums and piano chords, the occasional standout track makes this album repayable with some really catchy tracks, like the unwaveringly cheery and optimistic ‘Straight Shot’ which enlists the help of James Acaster (yes, THAT James Acaster) for its dreamy and ghostly outro.
What Quelle Chris constructs on Guns is moody and spacious conversation-starter and while he doesn’t find any solutions for modern America, he identifies a hell of a lot of problems, as his latest effort pairs up sticky beats with hard truths, put against the backdrop of satire to make all this mess seem a little more bearable.
Listen to Guns in full below: