Chris Crack & Vic Spencer Look To “Cement” Their Place In Chicago’s Rich History Of MCs (Interview & Video)
Who Is Chris Spencer??
For those who are not familiar with all of the rising talent in Chicago, then this is definitely a good question to ask. Chris Spencer is not just one, but two MCs from the Windy City, both of whom are looking to take it by storm with a seemingly endless dedication to lyricism that is adequately combined with a brand of streetwise braggadocio truly all their own. Additionally, Who The Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? is the title to the two artists’, Chris Crack and Vic Spencer’s, latest collaboration. With sonic elements of 90’s culture and Hip-Hop classics from the Notorious B.I.G. to more recently recognizable artists like Schoolboy Q, Crack and Spencer take a full court press style of trash talking to a whole ‘nother level, bouncing off of one another on the mic with a mean, aggressive tenacity and the fluid chemistry of your favorite Hip-Hop duos of years past and present. And, even despite their compatible duality on the mic, their union was an unlikely one from the beginning.
Born on Chicago’s West Side, Chris Crack may be one half of Chris Spencer, but alone, Crack finds himself wearing multiple hats as an up and coming MC in the game. Founder of the New Deal Crew, promotional guru (New Deal Crew Loves You), and record dropping wizard, Crack presses his thoughts to wax with the consistency of the rising morning sun, using his sideways scoffs and cracking vocals to express his love for bodacious women, the sticky icky, and his penchant for bullying rappers anywhere a microphone is astray. Raised on R&B and Soul, or as Crack refers to it, “that old wave, like Willie Hutch, Gladys Knight and Frankie Lyman, shit like that,” Chris’ influences are keys to opening the gates to his recent success, in addition to keeping his circle small, never stopping in the booth (or stepping out of it), and staying independent.
From the opposite edges of Chicago on the city’s East Side, the duo’s other half, Vic Spencer, has taken his bold stance in Hip-Hop front and center as he has gotten into some personal scuffles on the microphone, most recently with verbose criticisms of Chi-City resident and hydraulically inclined lyricist, Mick Jenkins. But that’s just the thing. Not unlike fellow Midwestern counterpart Eminem, these MCs just don’t give a flying fish who they evoke, offend, or flat out piss off. It’s not just gritty, controversial lyrics that gets Vic, or Crack for that matter, his listens, it’s his endless dedication to the craft, an ear for highbrow Hip-Hop (specifically, “E.C ILLA, Twista, the old Kanye West, the old Common, D.A Smart, and The Snypaz”), and the skills that have blossomed from it, honed in around his twisted, guttural vocals.
With all of these skill sets combined and no quit in their souls, Crack and Vic continue to mob through their streets with new records on the regular. Hell, these guys will even write during church. Not only that, Spencer’s latest solo album, The Cost Of Victory, ranked 19 on Rolling Stone’s Top 40 Hip-Hop albums of 2015, and without giving up on quality, both Crack and Spencer still have a plethora of music locked, loaded, and ready to be let loose from their respective chambers.
But even as the music rolls out, what continues to grab ears are the unique, monster personas they create in the lab, all of which help them stay fresh within their self-established worlds. Chris, who spits as Trill Withers (T.W.), the Jimi Hendrix of Rap, Crackavelli, and more, delved deeper with AFH into these character developments, “T double [W], that’s just uncle Trill. He’s like the OG who makes smoothies and eats donuts with big girls. Jimi Hendrix is like a shy, but flashy type dude that had to start ALL the way at the bottom, working wherever I go, got hella chicks, [and] created a sound of my own.”
On the other side, Vic, who is recognized most notably as The Rapping Bastard, exposes how his musings were more than just a manifestation of creativity, they physically kept him off the streets. “The personalities that I come up with help me stay out of trouble. The Rapping Bastard is a guy that feels like nobody fathered him in the rap game, it’s original, it’s creative. My goal is to always come up with something that was negative and make a positive personality out of it. Some people call me old fart, so I made a genre called Old Fart Luggage. I just recently created a new personality and his name is Ew McNasty, a guy that makes sense of all the nastiest subjects and makes them come to life on records.”
When you look at these two separately, both at their music and their personas, it’s easy to imagine how two MC’s who consider themselves villains in the game may not get along in their early Hip-Hop life. But really, their eventual meeting was set in place by fate and a little push from a local legend. Founder of the Soul Trap movement, MC Tree is known to personally pick the artists with whom he’d like to work. With his hand in Chicago’s Hip-Hop since just before the turn of the decade in 2010, Tree first worked alongside Marco Dayne of Project Mayhem and received more local notoriety after linking his first mixtape, The Third Floor, with Andrew Barber of Fake Shore Drive. Since then, Tree has burgeoned his special sampling talents and strong, raspy, emotional lyricism into a wave of work that would eventually bring Chris Crack and Vic Spencer to his studio, and furthermore, together as a duo.
Vic, who may first have worked with Tree alongside Chance The Rapper and the Sunday School single “Good Shit/Roses,” explained how he and Chris first met. “We met through MC Tree and the Soul Trap movement. We figured that Tree works with us on an individual level and how Tree handpicks artists that he works with. We both have the same lengthy catalog, we villains, we took all that energy to join forces and created C$ [Chris $pencer].”
But Crack wasn’t as sure of their compatibility as Vic was. In fact, he thought their time in the booth would never come to fruition. “Me and Vic actually have known of each other since like SXSW ’11 but we never really saw eye to eye, comes from us both being stubborn. Vic called it, he said we could make good music. I didn’t believe him, but went with it anyway. Turned out to be the best decision I have made thus far, I’ve never worked with somebody so much with the get down. That’s my brother now. Everyone told me not to work with him and I think that’s what made me want to even more.”
Like water, Chris is fluid, fitting into whatever sized riverbanks of sounds in-house producer CUTTA can curate, and still continues to gush powerfully, even as he escapes into the vast, open waters of MCs we know today. On the other hand, Vic, like a boulder, is steady and stoic, yet bold, broad, and authoritative on the mic. Now that Vic and Crack consider each other family, the one man who we have to thank for this rare relationship may rest solely on the shoulders of MC Tree, mixing the two into the verifiably concrete force that is Chris Spencer.
With Who The Fuck Is Chris Spencer?? receiving the attention it has as of late, the question posed now becomes rhetorical. We know who Chris Spencer is. For the duo’s latest release to coincide with the project, what better way for them to continue to “Cement” their status in the game than with an all new video that Heads may consider to be one their best, and of course, is also one they couldn’t see eye to eye on from the get go. “‘Cement’ was one of those records that Chris Crack liked and I wasn’t in the mood to write that kind of song at that time. But after hearing Crack and his freestyle reference, I decided to write my verse. We sent verses over to C. Rich and he blessed us with a glorious hook that brought the song together.”
And what a glorious hook it is. Just in time for every ganja lovers favorite holiday, 4/20, C. Rich puffs a smoker’s anthem of a verse reminiscent of vintage, 90’s Nate Dogg, while Vic and Chris roll up a few backwoods in the spot and blow smoke on the mic with some impassioned, chronic fueled bars.
Take a look.