I waited to listen to the full album to drop after the first single, such is my relationship with Quelle. Despite releasing two further singles (“Straight Shot” and “Obamacare” after the initial “Guns”), Quelle Chris is very much an artist who excels on the long play format. Many now are content with picking and choosing singles but myself and Quelle it seems (as well as being highlighted by Slug in our recent interview), find cohesion in complete packages. His discography epitomises this and Guns appears to follow this trend, with strands of various topics strung throughout to tie the concept together. 2017’s “Being you is great, I wish I could be you more often” dissected the human condition and the difficulties of knowing one’s self while 2018’s collaborative “Everything’s Fine” with Jean Grae allowed a fictitious game show to create a social commentary both harrowing and hilarious in equal measures.
As the title and cover art (depicting a battery of arsenal protruding from every orifice in Chris’ head, itself submerged in ammo) allude to, the topic of Guns are heavily featured. From the get go “Spray and Pray” leads with a sparse baseline, crisp snare and eventually some effects driven guitar (or keyboard?) to deliver its message. “Some targets set on truth/Just pray and spray you’ll find it/ Endangered on the loose” The titular “Guns” follows up with similar discontent at guns in American society, questioning their role, from the seemingly innocence of shooting beer cans as a youngster to more sombre school shootings and police intervention. The theme runs throughout the album, intermingled with takes on the current US government and its agenda, as well as Islam and homophobia.
This feels like Quelle Chris’ most overtly politicised record to date, yet, as on previous projects Quelle still likes to have fun and show us a glimmer of hope. Here he releases his pent up quirkiness, dissecting a crazy multitude of drugs on “PSA Drugfest 2003” or confessing his love for his partner in rhyme and reality, Jean Grae, on “You, Me & Nobody Else”.
Closing the project Quelle looks to the future, after he has passed, and contemplates how he will stack up against the greats. Let us not forget that as well as rapping he handles production (with assistance from Dane and Chris Keys) as well as the artwork. With his innate ability to craft such pedigree of records, at least in my mind he’s, on the right path. He says it himself on the energetic “Obamacare” “I was never weirdo/ They just had to acclimate”. This is not chart single material. Instead the album ebbs and flows to bring you from A to B. Some people are already in the know. However others, with time, will surely acclimatise and realise.
Album Rating: Highly Recommended (4.0 stars)
Poor: 0-2 Stars / Favourable: 2-4 Stars / Highly Recommended: 4-5 Stars