We spoke with Quelle Chris about the making of his new album, DEATHFAME, and how he’s still testing the outer reaches of his potential after 20 years at the forefront of rap’s avant-garde.
Quelle Chris loves a well-placed distortion. Whether it’s an off-center tangent in conversation or a down-pitched snare tucked into the program of a loop culled in an outdated Ableton install, the Detroit rapper and producer can isolate and endear you to the oddest quality of seemingly anything. It’s the activating element in Quelle’s beat-making and writing that’s characterized each of his studio albums. And, ironically (if not intentionally), what tends to make them so hard to define.
The sonic and philosophical tinkering enters an urgent new phase on his latest album, DEATHFAME, which is out on Friday, May 13 via Mello Music Group. Across the the project’s 14-tracks, Quelle employs a hallmark deadpan and tender ambivalence in grappling with the chaotic mechanics of enduring and adapting to the pace of change, mining the discordant values of our digital lives and interrogating the underpinnings of celebrity, genre, and success funneled through the reality-warp of social media. It’s an album with the weight of a historically heavy two-year stretch on or offline. Joined by a dynamic ensemble of Pink Siifu, Navy Blue, MoRuf, Denmark Vessey, and Cavalier, he doesn’t shoulder it alone.