Following the success of his collaboration with producer Chris Keys five years ago, Gavin Christopher Tennille (a.k.a. rapper Quelle Chris) delivers a sequel to the beloved Innocent Country. Astonishingly, it’s even more ambitious than the original, including collaborations with comedian Josh Gondelman and hip-hop star Earl Sweatshirt. 

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Innocent Country 2 by Quelle Chris & Chris Keys
2 reviews. Write a review for us »
8/10 Tommy WM 24 April 2020

You can never quite tell what you’re in for when you hit play on a Quelle Chris album. Not only does he switch up the sound of each release, there’s often a different concept or overarching lyrical theme on show. His collaboration with wife Jean Grae ‘Everything’s Fine’ investigated the perverse bloody-mindedness of feigning contentment alongside dreamy jazz instrumentals, whilst last year’s excellent ‘Guns’ took a more political step lyrically, using gritty and challenging beats as a backbone to the violent prose. You can vouch he’s always up for a collaboration though, whether that be with a fellow MC, a comic like James Acaster or Hannibal Burress, and a producer like Chris Keys, Quelle is comfortable taking a back seat if it’ll let the music breath or furthered with an amusing anecdote added.

‘Innocent Country 2’ literally picks up where Quelle and Keys left off, with a dark and cinematic introductory recap. ‘Outro / Honest’ highlights Keys’ production which defines most of the album; warm and slinky West Coast beats, shuffling and sharp snares, twinkling keys and sunset funk. At times it’s reminiscent of The Pharcyde’s jazzy take on the California sound (‘Horizon’ even references 'Passin' Me By') and Kendrick’s ‘good kid’ years, though there’s a fair share of the grizzly ‘Guns’ in tracks like ‘Bottle Black Power Buy The Business’. Lyrically, Quelle’s as abstract, cryptic and wordy as ever. Take ‘Mirage’ for example; the only immediately recognisable references in his sole verse are his self-styled comparisons to “Scooby-Doo and the gang” or mutants from the Marvel comics. The collaborations are realised nicely, with Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus contrasting the soulful croons of a 60s great on ‘Graphic Bleed Outs’ with graphic, fervid metaphors, Mosel and Nelson Bandela serve up some uplifting introspection on ‘Black Twitter’, and plenty of other stand-out verses from the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and Homeboy Sandman.

‘Innocent Country 2’ is one of the most uplifting and cozy sounding albums of Quelle’s career, almost as if it’s a blunt, inverse response to his own ‘Guns’ project. The sincere, daydreaming sound is down to the wonderful production from Keys, paired with the abstract craft from all MCs and vocalists involved. If you’re after some weird and wonderful hip hop sounds to soundtrack a contemplative summer of staring out of windows or not straying far away from your house to, then give ‘Innocent Country 2’ a spin.

10/10 Henry Customer rating (no review), 19th May 2020



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