Album Review | Quelle Chris & Chris Keys – Innocent Country 2

This album was released back on April 24th this year. Quelle Chris dropped one of my favorite albums of 2019 with Guns, so I was really looking forward to this one. I was super excited for it, especially after I saw the track listing for it. I probably shouldn’t have been that excited for it though to be honest though. The original Innocent Country album is one of my least favorite Quelle Chris albums. I definitely like it to some extent, but it’s just far from my favorite. It’s just a bit too laidback and chill for me, and this latest album is pretty much the same way to be honest. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed this one slightly more, but they’re both pretty much on par with each other.

The album starts off with this really weird, dramatic skit called Intro / Recap, which sounds like a commercial for an upcoming unaired episode of some nondescript soap opera. I don’t really think it had any important messages. Like, there wasn’t a story being told on the first Innocent Country album, so I’m pretty sure this is just like some random bullshit, but I don’t know. I could be wrong. Maybe the shit they’re saying is important, but it meant nothing to me. It all went in one ear and out the other. I do think the overall sound of the intro is pretty interesting, but it’s not really something that I get any kind of substantial enjoyment from. James Acaster is on this track though, so if you care about him that’s cool I guess. The first actual song is called Outro / Honest. It’s pretty goddamn good to be honest. In fact, every song on this album is good to me. It’s really just the skits that I kinda hate. The thing is though… I feel like pretty much every song on this album has the same overall atmosphere. It’s just a super mellow, melodic, consistently-jazzy and chill project. I think the production is gorgeous, but it sounds like something an R&B artist should be performing over. I don’t think Quelle Chris’ quiet, laidback vocals fit over it that well. It’s almost too smoove. I do still like it a lot though. It just all kinda melts together into one hazy, pastel-purple colored blur. For a lot of these songs, I noticed that my issue was just that they were too long. I was losing patience towards the end of some of these tracks. Anyway, Honest is a very dope song. I really like Quelle Chris’ rapping on this one, and the production and guest vocals from Marcella Arguela are glorious. It’s followed by a highlight for me called Living Happy, which was released ahead of the album as the second single if I’m not mistaken.

The feature from Joseph Chilliams on this song was pretty unexpected for me. I would’ve never guessed that him and Quelle Chris would work together, but I don’t really know why. Now that I think about it, their music definitely has some crossover appeal. I just don’t really associate Joseph Chilliams with the more underground, abstract scene that I think of when Quelle Chris is mentioned. Anyway, Chris Keys’ piano-driven production on this song is absolutely glorious as always, and Quelle Chris’ somewhat melodic delivery on the first verse is fantastic as well. I’m not crazy about the hook, but it’s fine. Joseph Chilliams sounded great over this beat too. He did a really nice job on that second verse. The final verse from Cavalier was also really great. Honestly, I don’t have any major gripes with the song. Again, I’m not in love with the hook, but that’s just a nitpick. I think the song is dope as hell overall.

It’s followed by Sacred Safe, which features Merrill Garbus, Cavalier, and Homeboy Sandman, whose feature was absolutely stunning.

He was definitely the star of the show on that song for me. The song has one of my least favorite beats on the album though. With that said, I think the song is dope overall. Track 5 is called Horizon, and I think the production on this one is fantastic.

I just feel like Quelle Chris kinda fades into the background here. I find myself focusing way more on the production. It sounds like Quelle Chris got swallowed by that beat. Overall, it’s kind of a weak song in the grand scheme of the album to me, but I do think it’s good. I fuck with it. It’s followed by the wackest track on the album, Moments. It’s a skit performed by a “comedian” named Josh Gondelman. It’s not funny at all. It’s just annoying. It is less than 45 seconds long, and yet it feels like it should’ve ended sooner. It’s thankfully followed by one of the best songs on the album, Bottle Black Power Buy the Business. This is one of the few tracks with no features, and it’s fire. It’s maybe the one song on this album that doesn’t feel absurdly mellow. This one actually has some vigor to it. The production is very hard hitting. It gives me the involuntary head nod every time I hear it. It’s got kind of a menacing atmosphere. It sounds like shit is happening. It’s dope as hell. The following track is called Grease from the Elbows, and I have to say, I was quite disappointed by this one. Don’t get me wrong, I think the song is dope. I was just disappointed because when I saw the features, I assumed all of them would have substantial contributions, and I was sadly mistaken. The Pink Siifu verse was much appreciated, but that “billy woods” feature was a goddamn slap in the face to be honest. They should not have credited him with a feature. It’s literally just audio of him talking to someone about some random bullshit with no significance. I don’t know why they credited him. They had to have known that listeners wanted a verse from him. It is what it is though. The song still ended up being very dope. The beat is a bit less soft, yet still jazzy and laidback. It fits Pink Siifu’s voice perfectly. It’s dope. Track 9 is called Black Twitter, and it’s pretty good. It’s far from a favorite for me, but I do like it. I love how warm and cuddly the production is, but this track really did not need to be 320 seconds long. It just gets old, man. It lasts way too long. The vocals on the hook sound phenomenal, and I think MosEL actually killed his verse. Nothing about the song itself really bothers me aside from its length. It just really overstays its welcome, especially because the beat is so repetitive. The song is dope though. It’s followed by an interlude called Ritual. This is the only interlude on the album that I actually like to be honest. The production is very pretty, and the Spoken Word performance from Dr. Tennille is dope. This interlude is followed by quite possibly my favorite song on the whole album, Sudden Death.

This was the very first single from the album, and I loved it as soon as I heard it.

He’s singing throughout this entire track, and his vocal style is pretty high pitched and quirky. The only thing I can really compare it to is Whathegirlmuthafuckinwannadoo by The Coup & Janelle Monáe. The vocal style is kinda similar in my opinion. Not really though. Actually, it’s a lot more like something Matt Martians would do now that I think about it. That’s probably the most accurate comparison I could ever come up with. This shit is fire though. He’s clearly not trying to sing his heart out. It still sounds really good though. With that said, the production here is really what stands out the most. This piano-driven instrumental is absolutely gorgeous. I feel like I’m sinking into a bed of sound whenever I listen to this track. It’s awesome. I love the music video too. Everything about the song is fire. I love it. It’s definitely one of my favorite singles of the year so far.

It’s followed by Make It Better. The one aspect of this song that really stood out to me was the featured vocalist, Starr Busby. I honestly think she absolutely knocked it outta the park on this track. She was singin’ her motherfuckin’ ass off. Of course the production is very chill and melodic, and Quelle Chris’ verse was nice. She kinda stole the show to me though. With that said, it’s far from my favorite track on the album. This shit did not need to be five and a half minutes long. It really overstays its welcome to me. It’s still good though. I definitely like it. The following track, Graphic Bleed Outs, is a little better to me. It’s a very pretty song. The instrumental is gorgeous. I think Quelle Chris’ rapping here is fantastic as well.

A faith in leaders abroad
Easier than believing in this nigga or that broad
'Cause ultimately all flawed
The thief who greets burlap sack full of hearts
He wishes he could pawn, but they still beat while apart
Now that’s a living soul
Collabos with the shadows and dance routines with the ghosts
'Cause not that many mistreatments get deleted in post

The features from Merrill Garbus & Melanie St. Charles were very nice too. The song is very dope. It’s followed by Mirage, which is quite possibly the most frustrating song on the whole album. This song would be amazing if it didn’t have that annoying ass long winded outro from Big Sen. I don’t know who the fuck that dude is, but he needs to get his ass all the way the fuck outta here. He sounds like Erick Sermon. He’s just talking for what feels like an eternity, and I just do not give a single fuck about anything he says. He damn near ruined the track for me, which is super disappointing because it has one of the best Earl Sweatshirt performances I’ve heard in years. He sounds amazing over that beat. This song deadass made me want an Earl Sweatshirt album produced by Chris Keys. That’d be glorious. Denmark Vessey‘s verse was really nice too. I think the song is dope. It’d honestly probably be my favorite track if Big Sen didn’t ruin it though. The penultimate track is called When You Fall…, and it’s a major highlight for me. I think it’s one of the best songs on the album to be honest. Once again, it’s really the features that blew me away. In particular, I think Nappy Nina fucking slaughtered this shit. Her verse was superb. The production from Chris Keys is gorgeous too. The closing track is just an instrumental outro. It’s called Fifoalsa, and it honestly didn’t really add anything to the album for me. It’s only about 40 seconds long, so I’m not gonna pretend to have an issue with it being here, but I’m pretty indifferent towards it.

This album is very good. It’s far from my favorite work from Quelle Chris, but it is certainly worth listening to, especially if you’re a fan. I think the mellow, lush production is absolutely phenomenal, and Quelle Chris’ writing is very good too. I just don’t really think his vocal style works that well with this production. He tends to fall into the background for me. This shit probably didn’t need to be as long as it is either. There aren’t any songs that I didn’t like, but he maybe could’ve trimmed some of the fat. Like, a lot of these songs didn’t need to be as long as they were. It felt kinda messy. It’s not a concise listen. It almost felt like a compilation at certain points. Those skits were annoying too. Overall, I’d say that as a full listening experience it doesn’t leave a super powerful impression on me like Guns did, but it’s definitely a pleasant album. It just sounds gorgeous. It sounds like a bed of flowers. I wanna hear Noname over some Chris Keys production though. I’d rather have Quelle Chris rap over his own shit. That’s just me being a curmudgeon though. I enjoyed this a lot. Check it out. It’s a very good album.

Favorite Song: Sudden Death
Least Favorite Song: Black Twitter


Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: B

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