By Jimmy Ness
Originally published at passionweiss.com
Cleveland’s coldest is too often dismissed as Kid Cudi’s lesser sidekick. Undoubtedly Chip’s affiliation with melodramatic Mescudi has grown his fan base, often at the expense of his credibility. But he’s also a talented and likable rapper worthy of individual praise.
Charles Worth claimed to decline appearing on this year’s underwhelming XXL Freshman cover, and who could blame him? The 25 year old was part of the underground circuit before Cudi became a hipster hit and comparing him to the likes of this, proves he’s disrespected.
On Chip’s first mixtapes he rapped with an unremarkable Southern style, which sounded sleepier than a sedated Z-Ro. His albums suffered from the traditional pitfalls: bloated posse cuts, weak hooks, unoriginality etc. But like most early projects, talent was hidden amongst cliché talk of guns and girls. Charles soon took an evolutionary leap after his fourth project You Can’t Stop Me and left his Chopped and Screwed days behind for a more light-hearted style.
Nerdy humorists from the popular SomethingAwful.com forum helped turn Chip into a minor internet celebrity after his 2007 S.L.A.B freestyle. His absurd “Interior Crocodile Alligator, I drive a mobile Chevrolet theatre.” line spread everywhere and has millions of Youtube views. From videos of National Geographic crocodile documentaries to typical internet fuckery, it proved he knew how to write catchy and sometimes humorous lyrics.
Chip showcased his impressive flow and unique style on 2009’s The Cleveland Show, but his real magnum opus was released two years later. Gift Raps has thirteen solid tracks without a single false move. The coldest sounds better than anyone over Chuck Inglish’s inspired beats and has enough charisma to carry the project without guest features. From smooth double-time rhyming on intro “The Entrance” to boom-bap raps on the triumphant “Light One Up”, it’s still one of the most cohesive and replayable albums in recent memory.
The ménage a trios fantasy portrayed in “Plural” is one of Chip’s best tracks period. Charles tells an uncomplicated tale about hanging out with two females before a drug-induced party. Instead of focusing on lyrical dexterity, he keeps the rhymes simple which strengthens the imagery.
“More girls arrive to my surprise. They had a bag of shrooms and kush and didn’t bring no guys. Here we go, get ready, good thoughts and fly colours.”
And finally we have a hypnotic chorus, which threatens to stay in the listener’s brain forever.
“Two going at once, I like my girls like I like my blunts (wherever, whenever). And that’s two going at once.”
Yes, Chip is not covering deep subject matter or rhyming the elements on the periodic table. But rappers often forget that music is meant to be enjoyable. Charles doesn’t over-extend himself and covers well-tread topics with a new perspective or vocabulary. He switches from comparing Cleveland and Jumanji to warning listeners not to eat high fructose corn syrup, all with the same light-hearted tone. His feel good raps have more in common with the Run DMC’s of the 1980s, than today’s jaded generation.
Teenage skateboarders and trap-stars reuse each others lines while Chip spits under-utilized slang. Who else still says fresh or talks about handing out money instead of making it rain?
“Forever I’ll be F R E $ H, chillin’ up in I-Hop with that country fried steak, super smooth Kenny G and these raps be the sack, shined up in the wax, bet them panties gon’ collapse.”
This year’s project Tell Ya Friends had a little too much filler and not enough Cbuck Inglish, but there’s still some of The Ripper’s magic on tracks like the audio smoker’s session “Soothing” or Lex Luger produced “Out Here”. The latter sounds surprisingly unlike “Blowing Money Fast” version ten and you can hear the beat maker was also inspired by the glorious Gift Raps production.
If Chip‘s strong points aren‘t enough to convince you, feel free to stick with Slaughterhouse reciting dictionaries. Sometimes less is more.