Out there somewhere where rap is still young, beautiful, and 90s-era-pure lie Chris Crack and Vic Spencer. They are, like most other rap-aholics, purveyors of the NorEast rap religion, long since sent to the pound for dismemberment. Their devotees are now few and far between, scattered amongst the sing-song sounds dominating the landscape. So, the two have teamed up (their first time, hopefully not their last) for the juvenile’s ride that’s a mere question: Who The Fuck Is Chris Spencer??
It’s worth it, is the answer. The two combine in hazy Meth and Red style for 39 minutes of bars-on-bars entertainment. It is at times funny if not non-sequitur, the limp styled two-some giving birth to jones’s about pagers and papers. “I was kinda skeptic / Getting neck by her best friend,” Chris Crack snarls. And you’re transported to a world where radio didn’t leave the confines of gritty 90s streets and Timberland boots. The whole thing is an exercise in ill-storytelling and beats laced in mono. Then there are the Biggie references littered throughout the tape the way Filipinos make adobo.
And it speaks to just how far rap has gone to the left of its former skyscraper paradise. In a way it was always that way, The Chronic sold a helluva lot more than Illmatic ever did, but in going all-the-way with what in 2016 can only be called a “concept” record, both of their serious powers have been magnified. “No Biggie,” is one such song. It feels almost Dope-ish, combing an era almost now long forgotten for reanimation. “Ice Cube” follows with just a hint of the aforementioned legendary MC, laid back flows drowning the listener in homage.
Production is heavily robed in samples and sparse breaks, as though the two were rapping in the hallway with homies or passing notes around in a class splashed in graffiti. But this is now a Hip Hop position. How will you respond to the current radio flavor? It must feel like you have to either go through it or go around it. Chris Crack and Vic Spencer has chosen to do neither, ignoring it completely. Fans already tuned into the rebellion will be thankful.
But Who The Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? can also read like an affectation. The language and tomes are familiar and done well, but the two may be too entrenched in their alien world to light the way for others. It’s a Catch-22, to be sure, but one that is worth parsing as the 10s inch forward.
If there is still a Hip Hop underground, then Chris and Vic are in its inner council. These two monks of the art-form of lyricism have, we’re sure, had to answer to the way they will choose to go. Will they incorporate the metallic chrome of trap or whatever else is popular at the moment? Who The Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? seems to answer that question with the rattle of subway cars swaying in a Chicago sun. Here’s to hoping this Hip Hop prayer finds its target, somewhere, in the zeitgeist of the modern age.