In this little corner of the internet, things were slow this week. The week’s big mixtape is French Montana’s Coke Boys 3, the Bronx MC’s first tape since his slow-burner “Shot Caller” went supernova, but the tape turns out to be a bit of a turgid mess with some good hooks. I also had high hopes for the great Beanie Sigel’s Broad Street Empire, but that one’s weird and mysterious and at least a few of the songs are really old; I don’t even want to write about it for fear that I’d get a bunch wrong. Nothing else I heard made much of an impression. So that leaves us with something I would’ve ignored most other weeks: A short but heady collection of woozy neck-snap Detroit raps that, holy shit, will actually cost you five bucks. But as it turns out, Quelle Chris’s 2Dirt4TV is really good and totally worth your time.
Quelle Chris showed up once around these parts, for the very good Queens-rap pastiche “Shotguns.” He’s also done a bunch of production, most notably for Danny Brown. But 2Dirt4TV presents him strictly as a janky-voiced conversational rapper, a guy who bleats out goofy observations from a nightclub bar-stool as a fight is about to break out: “Man, it’s about to be a squabble in this bitch / He done drank too many bottles in this bitch / Somebody stepped on his shoes or said some shit about some shit that ain’t have nann to do with him or his bitch.” His syllables come in dense, adenoidal clumps, but they always sound loose and relaxed and freeform; he’s not a show-offy rapper. Given their past intersections and shared hometown, it’s impossible not to hear a whole lot of Danny Brown in the grain of Chris’s voice, but Danny never sounds like the stoned dorm-room wiseacre that Chris plays throughout the EP. Unlike Danny, he’s never jumping around and trying to grab your attention. He’s just talking casual shit, and that’s enough to make him an engaging presence.
The beats all come from the L.A. producer DiBia$e, and as my dude Brandon Soderberg points out in his Spin write-up, they’re all very much in the Dilla tradition. The tracks lurch and stagger and sputter, warping samples in five different directions at once, but the drums maintain a neck-snap immediacy. “So Fine” takes lux-funk bass-ripples and suffocates them under a pillow, while “Wateverdoe” has a bassline that playfully slides back and forth without ever landing in a single groove. The tracks all come bookended with samples of dudes talking about how sad rap is now, or movie-dialog samples, or recordings of DJs telling assembled nightclub crowds to stay out of the way of the guys fighting. It’s all very consciously broken and unresolved, and for whatever reason, Detroit rappers seem constitutionally suited to tracks like that.
Stream 2Dirt4TV Vol. 1, or buy it for $5, at Quelle Chris’s Bandcamp.