For our new music feature Origins, artists give behind-the-scenes insights about what inspired their latest single. Today, Quelle Chris breaks down the various influences behind The Alchemist-produced “Iron Steel Samurai”.
Quelle Chris has been one of Mello Music Group’s most consistent rappers over the past decade, thanks to standout projects like Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often, Guns, and his Innocent Country series with producer Chris Keys. For his latest song, the Detroit veteran sets the pace for Mello’s upcoming compilation, Bushido, by teaming up with The Alchemist on the opening track, “Iron Steel Samurai”.
Over a grimy beat featuring distorted guitars and a gothic organ, Quelle Chris puts on a rhyming clinic — so much so that listeners probably won’t notice he left in a placeholder chorus. After opening with a reference to an iconic scene from Martin, “Iron Steel Samurai” further pays homage to Black culture with nods to Coming to America, Chappelle’s Show, and Love & Hip Hop.
Arriving on April 2nd, Bushido also features Quelle’s labelmates Oddisee, Joell Ortiz, and Homeboy Sandman, as well as former Mello Music Group signees Open Mike Eagle, Kool Keith, and Mr. Lif. Pre-orders are currently available on Bandcamp.
Watch Quelle Chris’ self-animated “Iron Steel Samurai” music video below, followed by his insights into the Origins of the track.
The Album Title Bushido:
The title “Iron Steel Samurai” was a late addition. It was untitled but labeled “Cucumber” still, which was the meme of the Alc beat, until Mello told me the title of the album was going to be Bushido.
Martin and Other Black Classics:
The opening [line] “busting up the North African metals on the Nefertiti 2K” was inspired by the classic Martin episode [Headin’ for Trouble] where Gina gets her head stuck in the new Nefertiti 2000 headboard. The name of that shit always killed me and I was always trying to figure out how I could weasel it into a verse. This was the moment. There’s also some Coming to America (Part 1, of course), Chappelle’s Show, Love & Hip Hop, and shit like that spattered in there.
“Less Is More” Mentality:
The chorus, which goes “Somethin somethin…,” was originally a vocal note as a placeholder/reminder of the pattern I planned to write the chorus using. But after sitting with it as it is now for so long I kinda just started to ride with it being just that and decided to say “fuck it” and leave that as the chorus. Oz. Movie magic. “If it’s broke, don’t fix it type” shit.
Very often folks tend to try to pocket me as a ‘this’ or ‘that’ style emcee. I’m a fucking rapper. Through and through. I’m a songwriter so that allows to me travel off and dwell in different style zones but when it’s all said and done I’ll bar up with anyone in any style. So from time to time, I’m inspired to do joints like this where I can just throw gems around. And Al is a purveyor of the finest canvases to do so on.