March 16, 2017

chris-spencer-vic-spencer-chris-crack-cement

Tosten Burks prefers chorizo.

I first met Chris Crack and Vic Spencer, the Chicago rappers who comprise the cartoonish villain Chris Spencer, last spring in
one of those hyper-vertical homes full of stairs and half-floors in the Hollywood Hills, just up the street from the Laurel Canyon Country Store. They were renting the AirBnB with several friends, all Chicago school teachers or administrators, including slick boaster D. Brash. Over blunts and donuts, the duo explained its origin story.

Vic: Me and Chris didn’t fuck with each other at first. I think the people we know brought us together: Tree and Sulaiman and Henny B. They was in my ear telling me, “Chris is just like you. You both need to chill.” I was like, “Ahh, I don’t want to meet this nigga.”

Chris: My homies was saying, “Don’t fuck with him.” Because he get into it with everybody. He’s gonna get me fucked up, along with himself. If people would’ve told me to fuck with him, I probably wouldn’t have, you feel me? It was because people was like, don’t fuck with him. That’s how people treated me. I was like, me and this dude gonna get along. We had a show, St. Patrick’s Day. After the show, he’s like, “Man, I ain’t fuck with your ass.” I’m like, “I ain’t fuck with your ass either!” We got right into it. But he was like, “But I see why. It made me want to fuck with you. Niggas saying, ‘Don’t fuck with you,’ made me want to fuck with you.” From that moment on, we made classics.

They weren’t exaggerating. Vic has dissed, subliminally or explicitly, almost every young hopeful rapper in the city, along with their stylists, along with their favorite club nights. Chris has gotten into fights with rappers in front of those clubs. They share a lust for haters, a relish for meticulously written shade, a colorful passion for being loathsome on the mic. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately.

This is partly because their latest single “Bacon,” the first release from Blessed, the follow-up to last year’s endlessly entertaining Who the Fuck Is Chris Spencer, is a pristine bit of gangster peacocking over silly theremin boom-bap featuring trap house raids, nuke missile assaults, cold brew, Rex Grossman, the baffling and near-perfect Vic line, “The pen and pad got about eight tongues,” closed out by a Drunken Monkee monologue that invokes omelettes, barbeque sauce, and big booty egg rolls. It’s partly because the rap internet mostly ignored the song. But it’s mostly because what makes it great, what makes Chris and Vic great together, namely their creative (non-“drill”) depravity for depravity’s sake, seems to not have space in the current Chicago rap narrative sold to the world, and I’m unsure why.

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about the black Bieber episode of Atlanta, which presents pop goldenboydom as an amoral media farce regardless of race, and closes with Brian Tyree Henry’s Paper Boi character receiving this advice from a white woman broadcast journalist: “Play your part… They want you to be the asshole. You’re a rapper. That’s your job.” It reminds me of Vic’s line on St. Gregory’s “Vicente Fernandez” that pleads with fashionable rappers, “You’re supposed to be the crook in the night.”

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about Chance’s latest GQ interview where he discusses his winking commitment to calling himself “the Rapper” despite a penchant for singing and his politician father’s discomfort—the one where he also jokes the main reason not to be afraid of a Trump presidency is that he’s making music for middle American white kids now. It made me wonder how surprised Chance was when the Chicago Sun-Times recently plastered his face and a smear piece about his ongoing custody negotiations on its front page, days after he criticized Governor Rauner and pledged $1 million to Chicago Public Schools in the fight to fill a $215 million budget gap, withheld due to politicized pensions and necessary because of a racist funding formula, that threatens to end the school year early. I also wondered how surprised Vic Spencer was.

I don’t know what a rapper’s job is in 2017. Part of it, probably, is to create art. I’m not sure moral calculations are a requirement. I’d wager Chance won’t say the words “police abolition” anytime soon, and also that he has a better chance at an alderman’s seat than Rhymefest. Likewise, I don’t know why certain websites never cover YG’s non-profit supporting foster home children, but I have a guess. I do know a music video featuring caged CPD officers fighting like gamecocks is worth your time.