Guns

by: Quelle Chris

The topic of Quelle Chris' album Guns couldn't be much clearer. The Brooklyn-based rapper addresses gun violence in today's society, discussing the motives behind such violence and its effect on individuals. Tracks such as "It's the Law/Farewell Goodbye Addio, Uncle Tom" and the album's title cut contain lyrics and soundbites about white supremacy and xenophobia in the name of American patriotism, and "Color of the Day" is a brief collage spelling out various day-to-day activities ("walking while black," "driving while black," etc.) over a playful Casio-like beat. Other tracks, such as the ominous "PSA Drugfest 2003/Sleeveless Minks" and the poetic interlude "Sunday Mass," depict unromanticized scenes of senseless violence ("bullets cut through teens like a butter knife"). The spoken interlude at the end of "Straight Shot" ("Should I laugh? Should I cry? Should I even care at all?"), as well as Chris' unchanging tone throughout much of the album, demonstrate how numb he is to all of this hatred and bloodshed. Despite the album's serious concern, Chris thankfully manages to get his point across without being heavy-handed or preachy. Crucially, the album utilizes humor without making light of its subject. Guns isn't as overtly satirical as the outright slapstick of Everything's Fine, Chris' 2018 collaboration with fiancée Jean Grae, but it's still laced with absurdity, both within its verses and through bits like the lounge-lizard interlude at the end of "Wild Minks." The superb production deserves mention as well; largely handled by Chris himself, it balances dusty, lo-fi cool with jazzy, soulful sophistication. The album concludes with two of its most personal tunes. Grae joins in during the spirited "You, Me & Nobody Else," elevating it into an "us against the world" anthem. Finally, Chris ponders his legacy during "WYRM," observing the fact that he's still regarded as a new artist despite being in the game for nearly two decades. Hopefully the powerful Guns will prove to be Chris' breakthrough, since it's easily his best, most enjoyable work. ~ Paul Simpson

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