By the time this double review of Chris Crack‘s latest releases is completed, it wouldn’t be shocking to learn he’s already got another two records in the stash ready to be unleashed. With Washed Rappers Ain’t Legends and Haters Forget They Were Fans First, the prolific Chicago rapper and singer is back to his usual high-quality craftwork of soulful, R&B-tinged Hip-Hop.
Of the pair, Washed Rappers Ain’t Legend dropped at the top of November after Crack teased its release but only fans got one of his albums, Thanks Uncle Trill, to a million plays on Spotify. In his usual fashion, WRAL doesn’t deviate from Crack’s propensity to throw everything in his arsenal at the wall and what sticks is typically the entire bulk of his creative expression.
WRAL opens with “All Cops Are B*tches” featuring vibey production from DJ Boi Jeanius as Crack raps in a modified double-time style and makes the most random Super Mario reference to great effect. Following is “Social Media Is Not The Internet,” Crack flexes his always-capable singing vocals with Frezh Taylor providing a boom-bap affair for Crack and featured guest Nate Knew to trade bars over. The song also highlights one of Crack’s best hooks across his extensive discography.
“Same Story Just Different Names” begins an impressive run of songs early in the project with Connecticut’s blckwndr sampling a woman’s vocal over a driving drum pattern that doesn’t jam up Crack or featured guest EVERYBODYLOVESFLEE one bit. Next up, the impressive “Just Alone Not Lonely” featuring Nina Rodriguez and frequent collaborator U.G.L.Y. Boy Modeling with KnowledgeTaken on the boards. While Crack’s vulnerable lyrics stand out, the show is nearly stolen by the underrated U.G.L.Y.
“Face Sitting and Frank Ocean” with production from Crack’s fellow New Deal Crew member Cutta and Jimi Wingate. Magic typically happens when the Cutta and Crack join together but the track is simply an interlude of sorts. However, “Ointment Appointment” makes up for the brevity of the preceding song with Delonne Burrell, Cutta, & Jimi Wingate way deep into their R&B bag with Crack, as he’s done countless times before, showing off his array of styles.
Picking a lone standout on WRAL proves difficult as Chris Crack’s albums are meant to be consumed in one sitting as he’s clearly into completing a feeling and expressing mood each time he releases music. But “Free Wifi” might own that title as Cutta and Jimi Wingate again crafting heat with Crack throwing in a shot at President-Elect Joe Biden.
As potent as WRAL is, it would be fair to say that Haters Forget They Were Fans First is the better of the two albums and the latter was truly a surprise as not even the most devoted “Crack Heads” (names for Chris Crack fans) knew it was coming and those listeners are all the better for it. Dropping on Nov. 12, we’ve sat with HFTWF less than we have with WRAL, but returns were just as immediate.
The zany song titles are back as HFTWFF opens with “Fap With Good Lotion,” with Cutta and Jimi Wingate on the production providing another funk-filled groove with Crack floating capably across the beat. The track is followed by “Sandwiches Fit In Weedbags” with Frezh Taylor again giving Crack a much slower track than we usually hear him on it but it delivers.
“Losing Was Confusing” featuring U.G.L.Y. Boy Modeling and production from Sonny Jim is frustratingly too short but that’s what the repeat feature is for. If readers are unfamiliar with U.G.L.Y., this song is a fantastic introduction to his audio brilliance.
With “Oontz Oontz,” this might be the first time most may have heard Crack over a club-ready track and one of the few songs of his career where he relies on singing versus his usual medium of rapping. Producers Cutta and Jimi Wingate once are the true stars of this selection in all fairness.
The talented DJ Chong Wizard set out a dusty but forceful track in “Kramer On Murphy Brown,” another minute-long bar-fest that needed another 16 bars but that’s just not Crack’s method. The idea is to get in and get out, which works out best for repeated listens in a time of disposable albums.
Retrospec gives Crack a screwface anthem in “Neal Recognize Real,” perhaps the album’s strongest song, and Crack’s vocals sit comfortably high yet warm in the mix. Again, Crack performed the hook and after one spin, we guarantee you’ll be singing it at random intervals in your day like we’ll be doing.
While double albums or “deluxe” repackagings can either be seen as dinosaurs of the past or a lazy marketing scheme in the streaming era, WRAL and HFTWFF would get that billing if they were packaged together. Thankfully, each body of work occupies their own respective lanes while, largely, remaining intrinsically connected due to Chris Crack’s effectiveness as a rapper and vocalist, and his expert-level ear for production.
It remains to be seen if the Windy City wizard can top these past two releases and based on his career arc in just the last year alone, it’d be safe to bet on Chris Crack.
Find Washed Rappers Ain’t Legends at your preferred DSPs here.
Find Haters Forget They Were Fans First at your preferred DSPs here.
Photo: Sky High/Chris Crack/NDC