23. mc chris: MC Chris Goes to Hell
Back in 2010 I wrote a blog about this album where I called it the best hip-hop album of the year. I still stand by that statement. mc chris is one of only two rappers I can think of who have had a perfect track record never releasing a subpar album (the other rapper is Atmosphere who appeared at both 63 and 27 on this list). While I’d like to say this could have been any mc chris album, it’d be a lie. While I love every record the man has ever put out, 2010’s MC Chris Goes to Hell is his undisputed masterpiece.
MC Chris Goes to Hell is the final part of a trilogy of albums. Sometimes you can listen to such trilogies out of order (like the Kanye West trilogy of College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation) but you’re missing out if you listen to MC Chris Goes to Hell before Dungeon Master of Ceremonies and MC Chris is Dead. So before I can break this album down, I have to start with those previous records.
Dungeon Master of Ceremonies begins the trilogy. It’s important to note the fact that this marks the first record after mc decided to start touring full time. In doing so he returned to the mc chris character from his debut release Life’s a Bitch and I’m her Pimp (The follow-up record Knowing is Half the Hassle he played a kid being bullied and Eatings not Cheating contained no skits). In Life’s a Bitch and I’m her Pimp mc chris was a struggling rapper easily pushed around by his mentor and agent Mr. Chanlen. However by Dungeon Master of Ceremonies he's a big celebrity, party animal and asshole. Mr. Chanlen keeps suggesting that mc goes back to the basics and write more songs about star wars bounty hunters, when mc chris refuses mr. chanlen hires and assassin who kills mc chris at the end of the record.
In MC Chris is Dead, our favorite rapper returns from the grave as a zombie and seeks vengence (as well as a more commercial sound). A group of nerds however summon mc back to hell. At the end of the album he begins going through the various circles of hell. Three EPs were released before MC Chris Goes to Hell featuring the original versions of many of the songs (including a ska-influenced version of Neville). In hell mc chris is forced to write the songs that Mr. Chanlen requested back on Dungeon Master of Ceremonies. This is where MC Chris Goes to Hell begins.
The opening track is a skit called Sam-E. MC Chris meets with Mr. Chanlen and is disappointed to find out that despite doing everything that was requested of him Chanlen still hates his new album. MC Chris has always had hilarious skits on his album (which is rare in hip-hop) but this skit strikes extra funny chords as well as emotional ones. You can tell that mc is poking fun at negative criticisms in the comments he makes towards Mr. Chanlen. The biggest key however to mc chris’ skits is his past experiences voice acting for adult swim. He’s familiar with the final art of comedic delivery which most rappers don’t have. You could close your eyes and imagine two animated characters having a conversation, I’d love to one day see someone create animations for all of mc’s sketchs (specifically the closing skit on MC Chris Goes to Hell Race Wars).
The first track on the album is IG-88’s 57 Chevy, the first of 3 bounty hunter automobile songs, it’s also the best of the three. mc’s ear for a hook is pretty evident on this track, but it’s even more evident on the following track Drinking Blunts.
Drinking Blunts is possibly the best song of mc chris’ career. While Hoodie Ninja has become his biggest hit (or second biggest according to some die-hard Fette’s Vette fans), Drinking Blunts is an upbeat party song that should be on the soundtrack to every teen flick. The horns parts and catchy chorus will get stuck in your brain for days on end but you won’t complain, it’s just that good.
Next on the record is Awesome Fucker. The song is about exactly what you think it’s about, how amazing mc chris is at fucking. What would normally be an obnoxious braggadocious rap song is made hilarious but a super vulgar chorus and purposefully over the top abuse of auto-tune.
However, my love for Drinking Blunts and Awesome Fucker have nothing on the amount of joy I get whenever I listen to 006. mc chris’ take on James Bond involves fighting a Hitler head. mc chris’ narration and characters sound like a child on the playground making up a story as he tells it. If you doubt that it’s intentional then I recommend you check out mc chris’ follow up album Marshmellow Playground. Chris knows how kids on a playground think and act, the child-like dialogue inbetween verses is 100% intentional.
Harry Potter fans will love Neville, a song praising one of the most underrated but beloved characters in the Potter universe. mc chris is the Neville Longbottom of Underground Hip-Hop. MC Chris Goes to Hell is a perfect album, but sadly the first 6 tracks are so superior that the rest of the album feels underwhelming after Neville. That being said chris still hits the right notes til the very end, whether it’s the sexist vulgarism of Japanese Maid, the heart-breaking teenage love song Potato Cakes or the mock-dance single Smackababy. MC Chris Goes To Hell is one of the best rap albums no one has ever heard and the highest ranked rap album on my list (although people might argue that when I post #3 in a few months).
The first time I heard this album was in late November. I had just purchased the album and was driving to work while listening to it. I instantly loved the record, so much so that I did three things that I rarely do when I hear a new album.
First, I listened to it three more times in a row. I played it for everyone that entered my car. I become completely obesessed with the record. I memorized every lyric and every line of dialogue in the skits. I always was a fan of mc chris, but now I was a super fan.
Second, I outwardly searched out for the next time I could see mc chris live. By the time I was 23 I was done with going to concerts. I liked going to a local show for $7 or $8 but I was done with dropping $20+ to see 2 or 3 groups playing in a real venue. mc chris became the only exception, I couldn’t wait to see him live. If you’ve never seen mc chris live before, you’re getting more than just a rap show, you get a stand up routine aimed specifically at geeks.
Finally, I wrote a blog entry praising the record. I went as far as to call out Eminem and Kanye West for making lazy and lackluster albums (despite them being two of the best selling records of 2010). I even contacted mc on facebook and twitter just to tell him how life changing the record is.
I should be embarrassed for calling this record life changing. The next 22 records that are coming up on the list are albums about heartbreak, life, growing up. Their well produced, well loved and critically praised albums. MC Chris Goes to Hell would be a novelty hip-hop to most people. To me, it’s the best rap has ever sounded.