MC Chris is Dreaming is about the titular MC Chris fighting his nightmares, confronting his legitimate fears of a dwindling fan base, being taken seriously as an artist, and whether or not he should even stick with the rap game. To clarify: MC Chris is Dreaming is literally about MC Chris experimenting with dream therapy, only to wind up combating Freddy Krueger on the dreamscape. Okay, now you want to know the crazy thing? It’s really goddamn good.
But Chris (writer-Chris, not MC Chris), I don’t know anything about A Nightmare on Elm Street. Surely this album is outside my wheel house? Don’t worry, MC Chris has got you — devoting two whole songs to provide exposition on A Nightmare On Elm Street.
Once you get over the sick back beat, “Dream Warriors” is a thesis on cinematic dream-based protagonists, providing an astute summary of the A Nightmare On Elm Street universe, from Johnny Depp’s death in the first flick to the Kelly Rowland masterpiece, Freddy vs. Jason. While he’s at it, Chris covers the entire roster of pop culture dream warriors, from Inception‘s Leo to The Matrix‘s Neo. It’s so beautifully esoteric, precise, and accurate that you can’t help but be impressed.
On first listen, you realize how intricate and bombastic the backing tracks are. “Hypnocil” has such a kick-ass backing track that I was legitimately upset when it ended abruptly. It was reminiscent of a concert closing with a bonafide headbanger, only for the lights to suddenly snap on — no encore, no after party — just done. On a psychological level though, the abrupt end is brilliant. Cutting the beat instead of letting it simmer out makes you immediately repeat the track to get back into the trance.
As a diehard fan of Muppet Babies, I cannot remain objective about “Muppet Babies”, where Chris reflects upon the double edged sword that is 80’s nostalgia. Chris acknowledges both the hellish landscape that is high-school, sprinkled with bittersweet nostalgia — all set to a trap mix of the Muppet Babies theme. It’s everything I could ever want for in a song about Muppet Babies.
As references go, ”Pop Run” is an overdose of pop culture references delivered with MC Chris’ signature rapid fire flow, all set to a hard hitting bass. Covering the opposite end of the spectrum, MC Chris abandons pop culture references altogether to confront his demons. In “spanky”, Chris reflects on growing up overweight. It’s relatively light, but the tone gets noticeably darker when Chris addresses his history of substance abuse in “Spanky”.
So of the fifteen tracks on MC Chris is Dreaming, four are skits. That could be a deal-breaker for some. Initially I was dismayed, before it occurred to me that this is MC Chris — aka MC Peepants aka Sir Loin aka Little Brittle and The C-Bag. The skits are essentially little episodes of the MC Chris cartoon, riffing on Krueger and pop culture. In fact, “Indispensible” and “Scum licking” are essentially full length episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, clocking in at around ten minutes each.
There’s a heavy Rick & Morty vibe drifting throughout MC Chris is Dreaming as well, due largely in part to Rick & Morty‘s Scary Terry himself voicing Freddy Krueger. Terry Krueger provides commentary on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how weird it is that there’s a multimillion dollar franchise centered around a horrifically burned undead pedophile who once fought Sub Zero in Mortal Kombat.
The only complaint I have about MC Chris is Dreaming is that it ends with a skit, “Scum Licking”. On the plus side, the track has Broad City’s Bevvers (John Gemberling) as the president of Netflix who forces Chris to confront his legitimate psychological fears of a dwindling fan base that is slowly aging out. The skit culminates in a real talk moment, with MC Chris questioning if he should even stick with the rap game. The two also explore the etymological root of scum. Even though four tracks on MC Chris is Dreaming are skits, I realized this was the first instance where I didn’t hate the skits on an album. I didn’t think that was possible.
Hip Hop | mc chris