Emcee Quelle Chris & producer Chris Keys drop the second entry in their ‘Innocent Country’ album series titled ‘Innocent Country 2’ featuring Homeboy Sandman, billy woods, Pink Siifu, Earl Sweatshirt, and more.
We’ll take celebration and joy where we can get them these days. The release of Quelle Chris & Chris Keys opus ‘Innocent Country 2’ is one of those reason to rejoice. It’s not a cast your cares aside album, but it is a deep, reflective, and brutally honest music escape full of beauty.
If Quelle Chris & Chris Keys’ ‘Innocent Country 2’ sounds like an antidote for a moment of surreal anxiety, the same could be said of it a decade from now. It’s an album best understand in a dialogue with the first volume of the series. Released in 2016, the initial ‘Innocent Country‘ focused on isolation, pessimism, and the notion of finding peace within pain. At a time when those feelings convey the mood of the moment, Quelle and Keys have responded with a soundtrack that offers soothing light in a bleak timeline. A hopeful record in a hopeless moment, precisely when it’s needed most.
The cast of collaborators is as impressive as any record in recent memory. Earl Sweatshirt, billy woods, Homeboy Sandman, Pink Siifu, Cavalier, and Denmark Vessey all kick indelible laser-eye guide raps. Two of the funniest people on earth, Marcella Arguello and Josh Gondelman (a writer and producer on “Desus & Mero“) perform skits, including the former’s hilarious rant about the importance of never sending a call straight to voicemail while you’re tweeting. Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, Starr Busby, and Melanie St. Charles contribute beatific hymns and eternal soul.
Behind the boards, Keys channels the spirit of Dilla with a level of vitality and imagination that transcends the millions of bedroom imitators who think it’s only a matter of chopping samples with an MPC. The truth goes much deeper. The keyboards and drums need to be played with warm and triumphal spirit, an intuitive connection to the organic rhythms of the old earth. It’s a communion with ancestral traditions: jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, gospel, reggae, and of course, the hip-hop titans who preceded them.
Over a decade deep into a sterling career, Quelle Chris continues to evolve and somehow improve. Media outlets have hailed his singular blend “of serious reflection and satire”, which make him one of hip-hop’s most resonant cultural critics. Always fiercely intelligent and a virtuosic MC, he’s become a brilliant arranger of sounds, personalities, and ideas. This is symphonic hip-hop that sidesteps the usual clichés and obliterates boundaries between genres without relying on watery fusion.