Hip Hop media and fans often struggle to embrace artists that exist outside of a particular crew or metropolitan scene. Odd Future, Black Hippy, and the post-Project Blowed rappers have little in common, but everyone nods their head to acknowledge that LA has the rap game on lock. Geography trumps reality when trend pieces are involved. After all, they pay better than reviews.
Every few years, someone anoints Detroit “the place.” They said it during the late 90s and early 00s when Slum Village, Eminem, Royce, D-12 ran the greater Hip Hop Shop world. While Elzhi, Phat Kat, and Black Milk held it down during the latter years of the Bush era. At the moment, Danny Brown’s ascendancy has opened up a window for writers to search for adjacent acts to lump him in with. Thankfully, the binds between The Hybrid and The Crown Nation crew (Quelle Chris and Denmark Vessey) are organically and hydroponically farmed. Not like anyone’s going to write a think piece on Crown Nation — at least until they head to the barbershop and ask for “The Skrillex.” Although if you’re looking for comprehensive breakdowns on their production style, Aaron Matthews handled it last October.
As rappers, guys like Quelle and Denmark are often overlooked because they don’t arrive with a saran-wrapped narrative, nor ear-popping technical virtuosity. They cook up hard-boiled Detroit-galvanized weed hop. The smoke of bitter herbs. The glint of stainless steel. I mean, Quelle did call his excellent debut, Shotgun & Sleek Rifle. Denmark took his name after the freed slave who attempted to incite the largest slave rebellion in North America (look it up). Like Danny Brown, they defy easy categorization: they’re street but cerebral, build off of eclectic sounds (minimal wave, funk, psych rock) and rap hard as hell.
The pair’s latest single, “Green Party Swishercrat,” has been on constant repeat for the last week. Produced by Denmark, the beat builds sounds like it was created in a grow room on Alpha Centauri, a mutant strain of funk and boom-bap projected into the future. The hook isn’t scratched nor is it screwed, it’s an indistinct chant that falls somewhere in between. A logical extension of the world that Crown created for Danny on The Hybrid and XXX. Exotic sativas and cheap Chinese food. The right balance of high and low, but high is the operative word. Maybe someone can package Crown Nation into the next New York Times Travel Section profile on Detroit. Even if they’re more shrimp fried rice than Slow’s BBQ.
MP3: Quelle Chris ft. Danny Brown & Roc Marciano-”Shotgun” (Left-Click)
ZIP: Quelle Chris – The Son EP (Left-Click)