That tweet is a little bit braggadocious and a little bit tongue-in-cheek. If you know of Detroit, Michigan’s own Quelle Chris to this point it’s probably because of his production – working with everybody from Roc Marciano to Danny Brown. A few years back he started dabbling in rapping and released an album called “Shotgun & Sleek Rifle,” and I’d be lying if I said I even remember it coming out. He reached a higher altitude on my radar when he linked up with J Dilla. That’s probably unavoidable if you grew up in a market where he became a legend – it’s the same reason so many producers in New York wound up sounding like Diamond D or Pete Rock (not coincidentally two other producers who crossed over to rapping). The first two words that come to mind listening to “Greene Eyes” are “quirky” and “etheral.” The first two that come to mind listening to “Aura” are “mellow” and “jazzy.” Any song here can combine one or all of those terms. This is not a bottom heavy, big bass, fast paced or menacing album. The most rugged Quelle gets is on songs like “Long Tokes,” but the influence there is blunted blues, not bar room brawls.“In Retrograde” is one of the few songs where he doesn’t give up the spotlight to other emcees, and we get a clear and unfiltered dose of his lyrical stylings over one of his smoothed out instrumentals:

“Or… I could make a song about a chick
I met last night, exchanged glances with
And though I got her number them digits I’ll never hit up
And even if I hit up probably wouldn’t even wanna
Or I could make a song ’bout marijuana
Start naming all the weeds and how none of ’em got no seeds
That’d be clever – or maybe make a song about cheddar
Or reminiscing raps about times when things were better
But… whatever”

The song showcases the same sense of humor one gets from his tweets, but it also makes the Jay Dee comparison that much more apt. His casual unconcerned flow and even his vocal tone are eerily similar to Dilla. He sounds a little bit drugged out too, which makes sense when he flat out admits “shit I’d just rather go to sleep/instead of sitting up all night writing another verse.” It’s a shame somebody who rates himself a good emcee, even if he’s doing in tongue-in-cheek, chooses to hand over that spotlight to others like Denmark, Chay, Bwameeks and Cavalier (who’s on damn near every song). It’s not that any of them are bad artists, but the few moments Quelle stands alone are the most compelling ones that “Niggas Is Men” has.

It’s good to have goals Quelle. I’d also make being the star of your beats one of them. A little more precision in the diction could also be beneficial if you’re going to work both sides of the mic. Words tend to run together at times in a mushed mouth sort of way. If it’s because you were high as fuck at the time, try recording your vocals sober. The weed may calm your anxiety about being the star of your own show, but it’s not doing favors for your flow unless you’re on a B-Real or Ghostface Killah level – with respect I think we both agree you’re not there yet. Maybe someday, maybe not. Keep putting out those beats though – I’ll keep listening.

Quelle Chris :: Niggas Is Men
6Overall Score