11. Quelle Chris, 'Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often'
Detroit's Quelle Chris oscillates between goofy and reflective, self-affirming and self-doubting on his wonderfully titled sixth studio LP. Chris produced nearly half the record with a sure hand, incorporating pleasant loops of old records ("Dumb for Brains"), pensive neo-soul ("Calm Before") and brassy swing ("The Dreamer in the Den of Wolves"). With those kinds of backdrops, it's not surprising that various New York underground hip-hop stalwarts – Roc Marciano, Jean Grae, Homeboy Sandman – show up to deliver sharp-witted guests verses. Chris remains a slippery presence throughout, rapping in unpredictable cadences and unusual tones. Nowhere is he more charming than on "Buddies," which plays like a supremely cooled-out, wildly ambivalent hip-hop sequel to James Brown's "Super Bad." "Might bring myself some flowers," Chris declares. "I'm in love with myself." E.L.