Max Bell majored in English.
I’ve always dug the name Chuck Inglish. It sounds like the name of a man affiliated with O.E., a man who might drop some good rhymes in, well, English (On the block with a Robert Horry jersey from the Rockets/Poetic with my sonnets” – “Drops”). And, honestly, the name’s always sounded like that of rapper who hails from Compton rather than Mount Clemens (Michigan).
Maybe that’s why Droptops, the free (via Karmaloop) record from Chuck Inglish—producer/rapper responsible for the half-head nodding, half-winking (read: self-aware) contemporary boom-bap sound of The Cool Kids—makes as much sense as a cherry red 64 gliding down PCH leaving trails of THC.
Droptops is Chuck’s short love letter to LA and LA hip-hop. Ostensibly inspired by ” a night spent in a droptop Bonneville while in Austin, TX during SXSW” and “the summer vibes of LA,” it’s the record you’d expect from a Midwesterner who probably spent his youth listening to Premier, Pete Rock, and Dre, one who probably hoped to drop the prefix and ride his “Black Mags” in the Cali sunshine.
From intro (“Transmission) to closer (“Dangerous”) the tape is heads above most other material released gratis this year (Gates, almost anything Bronson, IamSu, and a few others are the exceptions). The rapping, while not introspective or all that emotive—it’s not supposed to be—covers all the bases in terms bars written to accompany bass-rattling beats—clothes, women, weed, drops, etc. Chuck is smooth and in the pocket each time out, and his features, most of whom I haven’t heard of—Who is Kashflow da God?—do their part in terms of offering a break from Chuck.
While the front half of the tape (# 1-4) sounds like a more mature version of the sound you know Chuck and the Cool Kids for, the latter (#6-9) seems as if Chuck has really started to expand his sound. It (the latter half) is a G-Funk infused Inglish. “Drops” is a solid title track, with bass as big and menacing as Deebo and slithering synths. But it’s tracks like “TanGerine” and “Dangerous” that are the best synthesis of the West Coast sound and the Inglish aesthetic
“TanGerine” is Chuck’s nod to Eazy, a spacey and much darker (“My nigga’s sagging with the burner/T-shirt picture of somebody who was murdered”) 2013 version of “Boyz-N-The-Hood.” With enough “bass [to] make your face go numb,” the video should be shot in an ice cream truck cruising around the LA neighborhood of the director’s choosing (residuals).
“Dangerous,” however, is the sound I really hope Chuck pursues on his follow-up, the aptly titled Convertible. Here he channels boogie of funk God/resurrector Dam-Funk, Prince, and 80s funk/post-disco groups like Kleeer. It’s one of the most lush suites I’ve ever heard from Inglish, with synths, bongos, and funky basslines in abundance. The space or silence between sounds so common, and so effective, on most Inglish productions is entirely done away with. Suprisingly, it might be for the better.
In sum, if you have a Bengal tiger for a pet (“Keith Sweat”), are heading to a Beverly Hills hotel in your Bonneville to order up “the lox plate,” and are about that “fresh squeezed everything” (“For the Love”) life then this tape is a must for your droptop.