With the year coming to an end, many magazines and blogs are compiling their End of The Year lists, seeking to document both the best and the worst albums of the year. On many of the “best of” lists you should definitely find Ghost at The Finish Line, the latest album from Detroit rapper Quelle Chris. The album, which was released at the end of October, showed Quelle brewing together outlandish topics and thought-provoking lines into a potent, moving mix. To say the least, “Ghost” proves that there’s a reason why Black Milk said it’s his favorite Detroit album of the year. Luckily, we recently had the opportunity to speak with Quelle about Detroit’s approval, success, his latest LP , why he should write a book and more. Read it below.
RESPECT: When I read different things about you on the Internet, or even just have conversations with different people, I always read things that say that you are one of the artists who are helping to keep Detroit on people’s radars, kind of like you are a Golden Child of some sort. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel proud. It feels crazy because the show for the ‘No Poison, No Paradise’ Tour (Black Milk’s Tour) both my mom and dad were at the show. First of all, I haven’t seen these two together in the same room for more than one second — in a lifetime – so that was crazy in itself, but just to see that pride it’s a good thing. I’m extremely proud of it. It also means a lot to me too because Detroit is one of those cities where the residents of Detroit – the 24/7 residents of Detroit – can have this mentality if you ever left Detroit, we don’t fuck with you. It also means a lot to me that even though I’ve been jumping around and I don’t come home enough that they still hold me near and dear to their heart. It means a shitload to me because the reality of it is what if the place you consider your home and your family don’t accept you, who really gives a shit if everyone else likes you? So I’m happy about that. I don’t feel like it’s a burden or a heavy weight to carry. I’ve been doing me for so long that nothing can stop me, really. But it really feels good to get that respect. Not that I haven’t been getting it from Detroit personally, but to see it in writing definitely means a lot
Every city that we are go to, only the craziest people come up and talk to me. I always have the craziest stories because I end up attracting interesting people. Like one time, it was really cool actually because this guy I met early on in the tour in Albuquerque was the shit. I was backstage, doing my thing, smoking weed, blah, blah, blah and I ended up talking to this older guy with grey hair with the big Cowboy hat and Sammy Sam shirt with the big boots – coolest muthafucker I’ve ever met in the world. After the show, I ended up going to his ranch with him and talked about a lot. I always end up finding myself in those types of situations and sometimes it works in my favor and sometimes it’s weird.
It would be cool if you tried to write a book with more stories like that.
Oh yeah It would be. I’ve kind of always looked back wishing I kept a journal every day of my life. The reality of it is I definitely drugged away a lot of my memory. One of these days – I’m still not there yet – I think I’m one-quarter through my book if I decided to write one – I still have a lot to do. I haven’t even been to Europe yet. I’ve still got a lot to do. After 13 albums, people are finally starting to listen to me somewhat. With 13 more albums, I may finally be somewhere near ready.
How do you make so many albums ?
I mean I make a lot of music. I live a lot so in order to not explode you kind of have to let it out somehow. Maybe a lot of people don’t make so much music because they don’t have a lot to talk about. I just make music, and I’m always around musicians so there’s always opportunities, and it’s like my journal I think maybe. That’s my way of being like, “I was here. During that time period I made this song.” And so forth.
You’ve been making music for a long time and moving around a lot as well. How do you think moving around has helped your music?
I’ve been apart of a billion different movements. I’ve seen so many people blow up, some fall off and some become superstars. I’ve kind of have just been that guy in the background. I’ve always unfortunately, but fortunately at the same time, I’ve always been your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. People are like “Oh, so and so is the dopest,” but they’re like “Man, dawg, that last shit you sent me was the dopest,” so it’s interesting. That’s kind of my history. I’m an everywhere guy – St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, out West, East Coast, Brooklyn, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles. I started making music a long time ago and probably will never stop.
But how does that feel to know that you’re everyone’s favorite rapper’s favorite rapper? You said you have seen a lot of people blow up. I think you have a really big following, but is that discouraging for you to not necessarily got the same respect and notoriety that they do?
I’m extremely humble and I am definitely more of a slow roaster. I like the fact that it is taking a little bit of time to gain a following. I don’t get discouraged with any assumed lack of success on my part. Discouragement comes, but if you really want something nothing will stop you from getting it. Being in the music industry is a pretty strong test of character and perseverance and everything. It’s a test of everything – morals, you kind of just have to fight through it.
You have people whose goal is to blow up, but mines is just to make great music. Whether I blow up or not, when I look back through my catalogue and everything that I’ve released, I want to be proud that I’ve never faltered or sold out. My thing was just to make sure that the music came first.
Yeah I would imagine because I remember when I was trying to do music… I wasn’t really trying to do music, but I would think sometimes that there are so many different avenues you could go down as musician that it’d be easy to get jaded. It’s a battle.
Yeah man it’s tough. I never want to say it in a way that fans feel disrespected by it, but it’s really tough because you always get requests in different ways, you hear certain things from music fans like, “I want something that doesn’t sound like anything else.” But when you give something that sounds like nothing else people are like, “Man that sounds a little different. I don’t know how I feel about it.” It’s confusing at times. But I think the best thing is stay true to yourself and I’ve noticed with so many other partners of crime of mine like Danny Brown I tried to let people hear his music and they would be like, “Man I don’t know how I feel about his music…” and then like a year later they were like, “Have you heard about that guy Danny Brown?!” Sometimes you just stick to your guns and hope that at some point the tides turn in your favor. It’s always interesting. Sometimes it can be frustrating but at the same time, it’s way more gratifying.
Your new album Ghost at The Finish Line, is out now. From talking to you, I think I think I kind of get the concept behind the album title but I’m not going to interpret it for you. So for you, what was the concept behind the album title?
It’s a lot of layers because when I started making the album, it didn’t have a title. At that point, it’s kind of like two years old from start to finish. Over the course of making the album, it just became a general idea of pursuing something that like I said is the result of a lot of loss and a lot of gain. The title is kind of saying that by the time that you get to your goal at the end, who will still be there? Who’s going to be gone, who’s still around in spirit from the things in the past? And the name was super fitting because you know, you sacrifice a lot to be a musician. If you’re not one of the lucky people who becomes a millionaire off of your first single, you’re very likely to lose relationships, lose love, gain a lot of friendships, gain a lot of love. It’s a hard race and there’s no telling what’s going to be there at the end.
So The Ghost at The Finish Line, is kind of just talking about that — it’s sad. Now I’m getting sad talking about shit. It’s just so many people involved in your life and to do this you have to stay so true to it that you end up losing things, but by the time you get to where you’re supposed to be…even at a smaller scale, by the time I got to the end of making this album my life was a totally different life. The Ghost, cheers to the Ghost. But in the end, I’m always happy. I’m great right now.
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