As 2015 came to a close, prolific local MC Chris Crack dropped Jacked Tape Too: Jimi Hendrix of Rap as part of his freestyle mixtape series. It includes “Bamboo in the Treehouse,” which lifts its sloshed-sounding soul instrumental from “Lumber in the Condo” on Vic Spencer‘s great 2015 album The Cost of Victory. Before launching into his freestyle, Crack makes a few passing shout-outs, including one to Spencer: “Vic, what up.” And then last week, less than a month after Jacked Tape Too, he released a collaborative full-length with Spencer: Who the Fuck Is Chris Spencer?
Spencer and Crack click together despite their distinct personas, and Chris Spencer benefits from their easygoing chemistry and firecracker performances. Spencer’s cigarette-stained rasp and acidic lyrics sometimes conceal his range, but at his best he’s more that just caustic, sifting through his complex personality and affectingly engaging with his own vulnerabilities. He kicks off “Marcus Miller” by reflecting on the effects of growing up in an unstable environment: “A nigga stay to himself, so he wouldn’t mess up.”
Crack raps with a growl, punctuates lines with definitive high-pitched bursts, and speckles his lyrics with psychedelic flair. He’s a bit of a jester, and his rambunctious energy lets him pull off crude and rude lines: on “Illusion of Movement, Pt. 2” he raps, “I’m on the sample and I’m shittin’ like Pampers / But it depends if you conscious.” Crack and Spencer usually trade off on the mike, but on “Understand” they lock into each other’s flow and their partnership really blooms.
Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.