5 Essential Chris Crack Projects

Let’s break down 5 essential projects from prolific Chicago rapper and street-smart surrealist Chris Crack.
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Whether he’s asking a groupie not to touch his hair because it is too “luscious” (“Baby Hair Check”) or claiming Kanye West is using religion purely as a business opportunity (“Productively Stoned”), Chris Crack’s new mixtape, White People Love Algorithms, is a sparky reminder of why the independent Chicago artist has emerged as one of underground rap’s most hilarious and original new voices.

Whereas previous releases—Chris has dropped a whopping 16 mixtapes in less than five years—relied heavily on self-deprecation and playful boasts about stealing the girlfriends of his enemies, WPLA showcases a deeper level of introspection from the 31-year-old. On the brutally honest “Whodathunkit,” Chris talks about the pain of being nine years old visiting his older brother in the hospital following surgery to treat bullet wounds. “I had my mind opened / the nurse covered my eyes because she had a kind notion,” he recalls soberly.

Recorded by Chris himself while holed up at his home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WPLA mirrors the experience of getting lost in your thoughts during a substantial period of self-isolation. Chris juggles emotional breakthroughs with toilet humor and an overwhelming level of horniness, making the music feel reassuringly human to anyone currently stuck inside and bored out of their mind. As his imagery progresses from accidentally hiccupping while kissing his girlfriend to sharing pure confusion as to why Black people are still aggressively patted down by police in a world of social distancing, listeners are reminded of the artist’s unique ability to mix the surreal with the profound.

To celebrate the release of White People Love Algorithms, let’s take a look through Chris Crack’s expansive back catalog to honor his most essential releases over the years. Each of these projects is filled with reminders of why the emerging rapper has won high-profile fans such as Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown, and Saba—who collaborated with Chris on stoner anthem “VIP.”

Public Domain 4 (2015)

On his first mixtape, Public Domain 4, Chris Crack combines scathing one-liners (“I fucked your bitch and she made me breakfast!”) with soulful, experimental production that enables his wiry stream of consciousness flow to flourish. Throughout the tape’s 13 songs, Chris channels the energy of a hilarious world-weary pimp who has smoked so many joints his fur coat became filled with burn marks. There’s an addictive feel to nutty songs like “Track 3” and the Mac DeMarco-sampling “Again.” One of the best moments is “Duct Tape on the Machete,” where an urgent electric guitar sample results in some thrillingly absurd imagery from Chris, who talks about handing his enemies tea and crumpets from beyond a kush cloud. Yeah, this one is strictly for the stoners.

Troll Till They Fold (2016)

On his second solo project, Troll Till They Fold, Chris continues to embrace the role of the bombastic rap court jester, but with a more down-to-earth relatability. “Lost in this vortex of trying to be faithful in this room full of hoes,” he admits on the gorgeous confessional “Commissary.” On the darker, more dread-inducing “Mild Sauce on my Home Button,” Chris channels the pressure of being Black and encircled by police sirens. The forceful “Cat Shit Crazy” proves Chris is just as inspired by the cutting directness of Big L as he is the more psychedelic atmosphere of melodic trap artists like 03 Greedo and Max B. As the rapper reflects on his journey from selling crack to spitting crack, it’s clear he has a singular sound, rapping in a hyper-animated vernacular that is distinctly his own.

Let’s Just Be Friends (2018)

With its niche Biggie and Dave Chappelle samples and subversive song titles (“Gluten-Free Condoms” is my personal favorite), Let’s Just Be Friends is slick, seductive trap music from a cocky emcee just as concerned with spamming Reddit as trying to locate the “black Angelina Jolie.” Chris dazzles with a whirlwind of nostalgic references, placing a particular emphasis on one night stands he can only just about remember. The music is great, particularly the euphoric flute sample present on “Watermelon Pizza” and the grimy, Griselda-esque theatrics of “The Past Was Practice.” Chris will remind you of Danny Brown thanks to his ability to shift between the roles of a technical wordsmith and provocative, sharp-tongued comedian.

Thanks Uncle Trill (2018)

A record about maintaining your sense of humor even when America deals you a bad hand, Thanks Uncle Trill is Chris Crack at his most polished and relatable. He finds a way of taking drug-dealing raps somewhere warm and fuzzy (on “Hennergy,” Chris jokes about burying a million dollars of drug money in his mom’s back yard) and lines like, “Shout out to the guys who pay in installments” prove the rapper has some experience in finding himself on both sides of a drug transaction. There’s a dreamlike feel to a lot of this music, which borrows just as heavily from 70s P-funk as the melancholic chipmunk samples found on Dipset hood anthems. The soul-cleansing “N****s Ain’t Really Happy” perhaps contains Chris’ mission statement as an artist, as he advises: “Don’t be accessible and always eat your vegetables!

Crackheads Live Longer Than Vegans (2019)

At barely 16 minutes long, Crackheads Live Longer Than Vegans is a funky shot of serotonin; it’s addictive and something you’ll keep coming back to. Chris shows he has all the makings of a commercial star, sampling Janet Jackson amid the relatable heartbreak of “Goals Only Exist in Soccer” and showcasing pop sensibility on the THC-baked “Tenants of the Trees.” Clearly inspired by the sticky, sex-obsessed R&B of the 1990s, Chris sings with the verve of Devin The Dude throughout, showing he’s much more than just a rapper. Although each song is only a brief glimpse into his subconscious, Chris Crack gives you a compelling look into the impulses that fuel his eccentric personality.

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