Quelle Chris, “Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often”

Quelle Chris
Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often
MELLO MUSIC
7/10

KRS-One once claimed that a hip-hop song is like a confidence sandwich. The point of all the swagger and the bravado isn’t merely that the emcee thinks he’s the dopest of all time, but that he wants you to put those words in your own mouth and exude the same confidence. The introspective era of Drake has turned that paradigm on its head a bit, but he’s done so rarely as completely or as enticingly as it’s done on Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often, a new one from up-and-comer Quelle Chris that wears its insecurities right in its title.

The album wrestles with the notion of self-acceptance, not as a destination you arrive at but rather as a principle you must ratify anew each day. The opening one-two punch of “Buddies” and “Popeye” sketches the extremes of this process. The former is something of a love song to Chris’s best buddy, who just so happens to be himself. But self-love fizzles into second guesses and late-night regret on the latter: “Kickin’ the can but never eats the spinach / Seems I never reach the goal but always meet the finish.”

Again and again the pendulum swings—he talks shit against himself on “Dumb for Brains,” then struts on “BS Vibes.” Equilibrium proves elusive, something the backing tracks make plain: pitched somewhere between a druggy Soulquarians vibe and the punch-drunk psychedelia of Madvillainy, Being You is gnarly and cerebral, the sound of a jittery headspace that’s got room enough for every flight of fancy. Not every track clicks—here and there, the production is a little too drifty and diffuse—but most do, and Chris is in fine voice throughout: not necessarily sure of himself, but sure enough of what he wants to say. He abides paradoxes and follows his muse, and ultimately, the album proves its own point: self-love is a daily reckoning, and a lifelong fling.

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