Two episodes from his recent trip to England illustrating why Charles Vann, my good friend who writes and records as the bathing suit rapper SelfSays, is one of illest human beings alive:
Charles discovered that McDonalds in the UK offer a 'Spicy Curry' Chicken McNugget sauce that is not available here in the states. He smuggled a dozen or so packs of it back home, making the condiment repertory in his fridge something I don't think many other rappers would want to step to.
Charles took a lot of pictures across the pond. He visited all the major institutions and shot dinosaur bones, land indenture documents, crown jewels, etc. But Charles himself was in very few of the pictures. He was giving me a slideshow up at the 5E and after ten minutes of shots of people who are not one of my favorite rappers getting on and off the Subway I told him I wanted to see pictures of him doing some extra strength English shit. So he flipped through his camera and showed me a picture from the Entertainment Museum, where he was posted up next to Han Solo frozen in Carbonite from Return of the Jedi.
I'd like to allegorically extend the central objects of these vignettes, Mcnugget sauce packs and Han Solo in Carbonite as a way of explaining why I find Charles rap enterprise so unique and exciting. Have you heard Sleeping Beauty?
Chicken McNugget experiences are all about immanence and immediacy. Being able to embellish the McNugget with an esoteric, international sauce is blessing something disposable with exquisite stylishness. And so we see Self on Sleeping Beauty enriching a universal predicament with his distinct and elusive flavor. Charles' immersive lyricism bristles with swaggering frailty and subtle tension as he conveys all the vagaries and compromises intrinsic to loving someone when everyone else tells you they're worthless. Self was benevolent enough to hit me off with a few of his freshly imported Spicy Curry's, and I've taken to the habit of whispering, "so sleep, beauty, sleep" to my McNuggets before dipping them in that good English and sending them down.
Sleeping Beauty shows Self at his most vulnerable. Caught up, conflicted, set upon by competing impulses, wanting to go for delph but sensing there is a greater good he could serve. It is the predicament of the Carbonite frozen Han Solo that he was compelled to be photograph with, that he prioritized over brontosauruses and bejeweled scepters. A situation where you open yourself to disparagement and contempt, but have no choice but to remain true to your own aesthetic, the decision making processes that got you where you are. Han Solo never wanted to be anyone else, even while he was getting froze up, and I don't think Charles would want to trade place with anyone either, even when he's having to hustle to balance his musical aspirations with college, keeping the lights on, and maintaining stats as a gentleman of leisure. When the hyper drive fails he's not afraid to say my bad, and in so doing achieves a rancorous but deeply personalized authenticity.
Self puts himself out on wax in a way that invites people to participate with him in the minutia of his everyday struggles, from having his car stolen and not having insurance to figuring out what kind of hot sauce best accentuates his top ramen. He is able to infuse these banal incidents with enough personality and vibrancy that they seem as nuanced and vital as some a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away type shit.
Its freezing out here, and all we have are these bathing suits. Its all good though. All the Carbonite did was make Han Solo colder.
Check out SelfSayswhat.com and download the album "Something Out of Nothing" for Free. We perform together around town a lot too. Keep your ears peeled.