Boathouse and Defcee
Credit: courtesy of the artist

If you need an introduction to Defcee, you haven’t been paying attention to underground hip-hop in Chicago. The rapper had a banner year in 2021, thanks to three collaborative releases that nudged him further into the national spotlight: June’s We Dressed the City With Our Names, a collaboration with beat maker August Fanon; September’s Sunday Sessions by defprez, aka the duo of Defcee and MC CRASHprez; and November’s Trapdoor, made in partnership with shit-hot producer Messiah Musik and released through Backwoodz Studioz, a hub for abstract east-coast rappers. On the new For All Debts Public and Private, released by hometown indie Closed Sessions, Defcee isn’t kidding around. Closed Sessions’ in-house beat maker, BoatHouse, produced the entire album, and his polished take on boom-bap mirrors Defcee’s diligent professionalism. Defcee isn’t flashy on the mike, but he’s a linguistic alchemist, molding alliterative phrases that flash out unpredictably as he rolls efficiently through his bars. He locks into the watery, stretched-out soul sample on “Moving Targets” to indict the toxic competitiveness that capitalism forces on working rappers, fueled by a resolute poise that could gas up the entire scene.

Defcee & BoatHouse’s For All Debts Public and Private is available through Bandcamp.