For the casual hip-hop fan, the name Chuck Inglish may not immediately ring a bell.
Even if you’re a real aficionado of the genre, the work of the Chicago-based rapper might have passed under your radar. Inglish is one half of the underground hip-hop duo, The Cool Kids, and while they have several perfectly good EPs and mixtapes to their name, they weren’t exactly at the top of the charts. Inglish was known for throwing his name on a few features, but had nothing substantial in terms of a solo effort.
Inglish has now broken out on his own and is determined to rise out of the middling levels of notoriety of the mixtape game and has made a singular statement for himself with his debut album, “Convertibles.”
“Convertibles” is incredibly playful and its lush production displays a laid-back swagger that will be perfect in the upcoming summer months. Inglish made sure the sounds of the album came first and made sure to defer to his many collaborators on the album, but is never outshined by outside talent.
The album is packed with collaborating performers like Chromeo, Action Bronson and Chance the Rapper. They each get their moment to shine on the album. One of the more surprising tidbits about “Convertibles” is that guitarist Mike Einziger of Incubus co-produced the album with Inglish. This revelation initially makes no real sense as the album has more in common musically with Pharrell, N.E.R.D., and Dam Funk than it does with anything Incubus ever did.
This becomes irrelevant as you learn that the album is more about blurring the lines between genres and breaking down expectations of what a hip-hop album should sound like.
The opener, “Elevators” featuring Buddy and Polyester the Saint is a light, funky track that evokes the G-funk era of hip-hop along with “Swervin,” with Sir Michael Rocks of the Cool Kids making an appearance. The equally-as-groovy Chromeo-helmed “Legs” is the perfect mix of neo-funk and hip-hop that would turn a party out.
“Prism” features newcomer Jade Hurtado crooning over smooth, airy bass lines reminiscent of indie R&B sensation, The Internet. Jazzy, Pharcyde-esque live instrumentation is the treat of the album’s closer, “Glam,” featuring Chance the Rapper.
Inglish’s roots as an underground rapper come through the most on the back of boom-bap beats on “Attitude,” “Money Clip” and “Game Time,” featuring Action Bronson on a beat that seemed almost tailor-made for him. The only song on “Convertibles” that isn’t working is “Mas o Menos.” Even though “Convertibles” isn’t trying to be hard-hitting or socially-conscious hip-hop, it’s a bit difficult to take the song seriously. It’s passable as a booming party song but only because the party would drown out the lyrics.
The album’s gems lie on “Dream,” the aforementioned “Swervin,” and “Came Thru/Easily,” featuring West Coast upstart Ab-Soul and Pittsburgh’s comeback kid Mac Miller. “Convertibles” is Inglish showing off musically and he does so in fantastic fashion. It’s entirely frivolous, hedonistic and filled to the brim with a kind of earnest bravado that hip-hop has been missing lately.