Chip tha Ripper: Gift Raps

Two of the internet underground's strongest voices (Chuck Inglish works the boards) unite for one of 2011's first hip-hop album of the year contenders.

Chip tha Ripper

Gift Raps

Label: S.L.A.B.
US Release Date: 2011-03-01
UK Release Date: 2011-03-01

Over the past two years, Chip tha Ripper has refined his voice into something pretty special. At times sounding as nasal-throated and blunt-infused as Rick Ross or Gucci Mane at their most throwed, he is also now capable of whipping out a throwback, mid-'90s-type doubletime ("Hang Out" will take you by surprise with this especially). Given his natural voice is already highly recognizable regardless of which extreme he chooses, it's remarkably easy at times listening to Chip tha Ripper rap on Gift Raps. But has he mastered making music that's entertaining over a full-length runtime yet? One of his first smart moves is avoiding the 26-track, hour-and-a-half runtimes of his first mixtapes. Like last year's overlooked (by myself included) Independence Day mixtape, Gift Raps is a svelte collection of 13 songs.

Adding further to Gift Raps' concise demeanor is the lack of any guests, not even good friends like CuDi and Mikey Rocks. The latter is at least a little surprising considering his Cool Kids cohort Chuck Inglish produces all but one of the tracks here. Chuck, by the way, turns in a hell of a performance that shows him building strongly off the momentum of "Fat Raps", his previous collaboration with Chip that paid off strongly with an all-star remix last year. The beats on Gift Raps are consistently funky and blippy all at once, bringing to mind the stupor of Kanye's "Punch Drunk Love" siphoned through a blunt session rather than a Hennessey bender.

Gift Raps has one major flaw, though -- one I feel Chip tha Ripper is going to have a real hard time overcoming. Yes, his voice sounds cool as hell. Yes, his lyrics are definitely real and personal (his off-hand remark about working at Taco Bell is a great example). But there's something about the way he puts his verses together, and even his hooks, that makes them feel as though Chip's a guy that's just as quick to spit the first rhyme he thought of as the 15th. It lends a lot of his verses a rambling, almost Game-like way of unraveling that can sometimes cause me to tune out for brief stretches at a time.

And there are moments where Chuck seems to be piling on too much, like the bridge on "The Big Bang" or the basic sound of "Jumanji". It's definitely a unique song, but Chip sounds a lot more comfortable on the more laid back-beats and he always has. "The Big Bang" is about as close to a "Crazy World" as we could probably ask for from Chip tha Ripper. "Everyday Chillin'" might cause some screwfaces going both positive and negative, but over multiple listens, it's one of the album's biggest growers alongside "U.A.F." and "The Bio". "Plural" is another song that becomes endearing quickly, especially if you're going from iPod earbuds to a properly amplified car stereo or home hi-fi.

Because of Chip's seemingly physical inability to sound fully in harmony with some of the production, it does ultimately become Chuck Inglish that feels like the star of the show. The queues that he's taking from fellow Chicagoans No I.D. and Kanye West are more than apparent, especially on maximalist bangers like "The Coldest" and the psychedelic, post punk vibe of "DynoMan". The way he approaches beats as a matter of ever-flowing rhythms rather than the more precise characteristics of trap or boom bap music allows Gift Raps to hold things back at first, requiring multiple listens to pick out all the details available. Which also inevitably does favors to Chip, also giving him time to wear on the audience and for his lyrics to open themselves up more readilyl.

Eventually, you learn to ignore a lot of the negatives you can pick out of the listening process and simply enjoy the combination. The two try their best to pick up each other's fumbles and bad snaps, and when they click, it's on some Brett Favre 'n' Percy Harvin (this isn't a snap song yet?) steez. If it weren't for the fact I just can't bring myself to give Chip tha Ripper my undivided attention at any point in the runtime, this would probably get a little more love from me. At the price of free-99, though, it's hard not to point nearly any fan of hip-hop in Gift Raps' direction. In some ways, it feels like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's easygoing fourth cousin. Its genes are very much a different beast, but in subtle ways seem built on the same ideals.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.