Jean Grae/Quelle Chris
Mello Music Group
Jean Grae is one of the best rappers and lyricists in the world today. Why have you never heard of her? I’ve got one word: sexism. While male rappers of middling talent go on to dominate the world, wicked female MCs toil in the underground. And that’s where Grae has been throughout her career. At the same time, she has mad respect within the hip hop world, and has an international presence, having worked with such luminaries as the Herbaliser, Talib Kweli and Cannibal Ox.
Here she teams up with Detroit-based producer and rapper, Quelle Chris. Chris takes his name from the German word for ‘source,’ not the French word for ‘which’. Like Grae, he has deep respect in the underground hip hop world. And, it just so happens that Grae is his long-time partner; they got engaged in December.
When Everything’s Fine came across my desk, I was excited, for reasons which should be clear by now. And the album does not disappoint. Grae is her usual sharp, brilliant self, and Chris does his best to keep up (that’s not a diss, she is that good). Everything’s Fine plays a sharp satire of our medicated, self-centered world. We also live in dark and crazy times, where our president is constantly sabre-rattling and sowing social and cultural discord. And that doesn’t even speak to the crazy out in the wider world. Makes me want to never leave my home in the deep country of New England.
The beats on this record are what one would expect from both Grae and Chris, oddball, off-beat, and very funky. Their delivery runs along opposites, as Grae’s rhymes are more complicated, she’s more interested in subtlety and demonstrating her mad word play skills. Chris, on the other hand, hits like a sledgehammer. And so if everything is so fucking fine, why is everything so fucked up?
The entire album, from start to finish, is an instant classic. But the comedy relief in between is something too. Take, for example, the appearance of Nick Offerman, ostensibly in his character of Ron Swanson from the long-running and deeply missed Parks & Recreation. Here, Offerman/Swanson tells us that ‘Everything’s fine.’ And reminds us that which does not affect us is none of our business, laughing as he asks us why we would bother with such things.
Go get this album. Now.