EXCLUSIVE: Quelle Chris Talks “Innocent Country” Album, Prayer Versus Action & Interacting With Online Critics


Mello Music Group emcee Quelle Chris is back with a new project. Two years removed from his critically acclaimed Ghost At The Finish Line, Quelle teamed up with Bay Area producer Chris Keys for the collaborative effort Innocent Country.

The 12-track LP is the third installment of Quelle’s 2Dirt4TV series. Music listeners were first introduced to the concept on 2012’s ep 1. Part two came in the form of 2013’s N*ggas Is Men. The latest leg of the trilogy includes the ominous “Where The Wild Things Roam,” the gripping “I Asked God,” and the Fresh Daily & Cavalier assisted “We Want It Alive.”

Denmark Vessey, The Fiends, and Big Sen also show up on Innocent Country, but Quelle serves as the lead actor of the lyrical exhibition. The Detroit representative spoke with AllHipHop.com about his current album. In addition, Quelle Chris discusses religion, social media critics, and his next album.

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You decided to present this project as 2Dirt4TV Three. Why did you make that decision?

It’s the general template. Although, I think, sound quality wise, I’ve been spoiling the series. The idea was that it’s not like Shotgun & Sleek Rifle, Ghost At The Finish Line, or the one I have coming up after this – Being You Is Great. With those ones, I hit the lab. I’m rapping in booths, rap n*gga sh*t.

2Dirt4TV is not as much a personal experience. It’s more of a shared experience with someone else. The first one is Dibia$e, and the next one was with Cav and Messiah Musik,. Then this one is with Chris Keys. The “full length albums” were more centered around me.

So Chris produced the entire album?

Yeah, very swellly too.

I wasn’t sure if you produced tracks as well.

No, he handled all that fancy footwork.

Innocent Country Cover Art
Innocent Country Cover Art

You did design the cover art. Can you explain the concept of it?

The whole concept of Innocent Country is just that n*ggas are f*cked up. Everybody’s trying to act like they ain’t f*cked up and point out how f*cked up everything else is. Everybody on the internet is acting like they’re gods and they’re perfect. All this crazy sh*t. You’re f*cked up.

Lately, I watch a lot of those daytime talk shows, and the topic will be lying or something like that. The host will ask, “How many people have told a lie?” Only like 12 people would raise their hand. And it’s like, “Y’all are lying right now.”

The title itself is more of an ironic title. That album is just about how people do f*cked up sh*t to themselves and others, either consciously or on accident. It’s better to just look at yourself and accept it. That’s what the cover art is about. It’s people stabbing themselves and each other, in the back and in the face.

You mentioned how some people try to act like they’re God. You released the track “I Asked God.” What inspired you to write that particular song?

Just living. My mother will always say, “You gotta pray. Just pray.” The rest of the world is like, “You better pay up.” You can pray as much as you want, but unless you’re putting some money in my hand, you don’t have a roof, you can’t eat, you can’t survive.

It goes back to that Innocent Country idea which is even God is f*cked up on this album. Even God is like, “Look, I don’t even know bro.”

There was one line on the chorus that stood out. The protagonist of the song is talking to God, and God responds by saying, “Ain’t you God too?” I grew up in the Bible Belt in Georgia, and I know some religious people will hear that and take it as blasphemous. But what did that response from “God” mean for you?

If I want to attempt to battle it with scripture –  “Faith without works is dead.” It’s like [God is saying], “You’re asking me, but what are you doing? Can’t y’all handle it too? Don’t y’all have the answers? I left the power in y’all hands to control y’all lives. You’re sitting around waiting for me to do something, but what are you doing? Ain’t y’all got the power to? I specifically gave it to y’all, so do something. Stop sitting here waiting for me to do something. I send the floods. That’s what I do. [laughs] So you don’t want to ask me to do nothing, because I’ll wipe y’all n*ggas out.”

That’s definitely a conversation that has been happening a lot recently. Especially, after the Charleston church shooting. Some people say what the community needs to do is keep praying and asking for God to spread love. Then there’s other people saying there needs to be more action from the actual citizenry. So what you’re saying is very timely.

The concept of religion is extra interesting. It’s something that has been going on forever and will go on forever. It’s not too many horses in the barn that aren’t already beat dead. That’s just the general concept. It’s like, “Ain’t you God? Can’t you fix it?” And He’s like, “Can’t you fix it? Or are you just going to sit there and do nothing?” But you can do that if you want to. You can sit there and keep praying if you want.

I was reading some of the blogosphere’s reaction to your video “Where The Wild Things Roam.” Some people said it was “exceptional” and “brilliant.” Someone else wrote it was “f*cking weird.” What was your vision behind the treatment for that clip?

Initially, it started with watching Japanese commercials. They have those fly ass animal costumes. One day I was sitting in the backyard, like how the video starts, and then I walked into that undisclosable location. N*ggas were in there doing whatever recreational activities they like to do.

It reminded me of Max from Where The Wild Things Are. He used to dress up in a costume. It just dawned on me how interesting it would be to see a bunch people that were like kids that never gave it up. It’s just a group of people of common mind all hanging together. But this particular group believes one day they’re gonna make it to a magical land.

When you’re a kid it’s cute, but when you’re an adult it could look dark, sad, or fun. I think the visual provides that mixed emotion. I see it and I think that looks like a damn good time. Some people see the video and say, “I would not want to be there.” But to the people that are there, they’re okay with it. So it was just a mix of Where The Wild Things Are [the book] and where the wild things are as far as humans.

If you go on some artists’ Twitter or Facebook pages, they only respond to the positive comments. But you respond to the people that are critical. It wasn’t in a malicious way, but you did explain yourself or your art. What drives you to talk to your fans and your critics online?

I talk to my fans because they hopefully go out of their way – I demand they go out of their way to support me. So the least I can do is if you feel like you have a thought to share with me, if I’m in the mood, then I’ll chat it up with you. Sometimes I’m drunk enough were I don’t really care, so it’s like, “F*ck it. Whatever you gotta say, let’s just chat.”

Sometimes when it’s a negative comment, it’s like a parasite and you have to spray it down. I’m not gonna just let someone poison the well with some negative energy. I try to eradicate the negative energy as soon as it presents itself, so then it can just be pure thought. People can go into the art – listening and visually –  with pure thought. Rather than it being a poisoned thought by some dumb ass who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.

With the internet people act like they can say whatever. Back in the day, you wouldn’t just show up to my door and start yapping off. So I think it’s a respect thing. There’s certain lines where it’s like, “I’m just gonna read this and forget about it.” But sometimes it’s like, “Let me address this issue. Just on a respectful level with the person.” From there you can believe whatever you want, but I’m gonna let you know what it is.

You mentioned earlier that you’re already working on your next album. Do you have an idea when that will be released?

The powers that be would want it by the end of the year, but I’m very stubborn. Until I feel like it’s right… albums like Ghost, Shotgun, and even Innocent Country, there’s this brief moment where I feel like it’s right, but then I say, “I take that back.” I don’t like it until it comes out, and people say, “I like it.” Then I’m like, “Okay, cool.”

There’s like this switch that switches off in me where I start to have a certain number of songs, I pair them together, and that’s it. So I would like to say by the end of the year, but it really depends on when I feel it’s right. It’s definitely pretty damn superb. I’m a big fan of it already.

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Quelle Chris’ Innocent Country is scheduled for release on July 10. Pre-order the album on iTunes.

Follow Quelle Chris on Twitter @QuelleChris and Instagram @Quellechrist.