There is no denying I’m a sucker for the type of rap Shotgun & Sleek Rifle encompasses. That smoked out unhinged punk-hop grounded on obscure loops and dusty drums that provide more of a pulse than a knock. Murky decapitated funk oozes out of songs, as guitar riffs flail comfortably next to forgotten soul tracks that are looped up with little to no sample chop or mix-down. Inside of this intoxicating mess is Quelle Chris spittin’ fly rhymes that seem to summon the ghost of Cappadonna circa 96. This is the type of rap music that caters to its own neglected soul: broke, dreaming big, with vice in one hand and solutions to the world’s problems in the other, all while drunk and confident as Obama on the campaign trial.
Quelle, fresh off having released one of the year’s best EP’s with The Son and providing Danny Brown’s The Hybrid and XXX with some of their best moments, uses the album to flex his abilities. “Sleek Rifle” sets the tone of the album with its woozy stop-n-pause haze of bass and spliced key notes as Quelle lays out his objectives for rapping: proclamations of alternative Blackness, a lot of blunt smoking, calling out lying ass rappers, and getting some ass. The urban cowboy funk of “Shotgun” creeps in a few songs later, featuring Danny Brown and Roc Marciano, with all three emcees kicking that slick city gumbo atop of a slow strumming guitar and blaring horns. Soon after, the age old tale of watching out for a groupie hoe, “Sly (Playing the Game)” finds its place in a succinct fuzzy 90 seconds of bounce
Things get a bit more serious on the exquisite crime noir Roc Marci lays out for “The Crook”, as we hear Quelle speak about feeding one’s mind to make it through these manic days-n-times. Later, one of the albums more progressive and elegant sounds is found on the MosEL produced “NuBeginning”. Bubbling textures, a flute sample and a constant bass murmur anchors Quelle and new-comer Machine’s raps about race, the city and moving onto more materially wealthy and spiritually healthy places in one’s life. The album closes definitively with the raw addict sounds of “Another Blunt”, the crew cut “Still Wasted” and “The Loop”.
It’s a dynamic found throughout Shotgun & Sleek Rifle, typical guy raps about pussy, weed and clothes flowing naturally next to raps about life, spirit and thought. The wheel is not being reinvented here, but made wildly entertaining by Quelle and friends ability to build an insular world all their own, yet readily accessible. Though 16 tracks long the album clocks in at a little over 40 minutes with no unnecessary skits and tied together by short vocal and instrumental interludes. Quelle’s distinct vocal tone tied to his self-assured and well paced delivery give a unique quality to old topics over some of 2011’s best production. Shotgun & Sleek Rifle is another gem to fall out of the deracinated centers of Detroit rock city. It and Quelle are adding to a city’s rap legacy that is becoming mighty strong post Slum Village and Jay Dee.