A message from the Make Oklahoma Weirder team: this article was originally written by Evan Jarvicks in 2019 and is being released as part of MOW’s “VVeirder VVinter Vault” of 2023.
Chris “The God MC” Cain weaves together lyrical vulnerability, delicate instrumentals, and classic hip-hop with “Lucky to Be a Legend” EP.
It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that Lucky to Be a Legend is a hip-hop album without any beats. It would be true to say that the often angelic instrumentation behind Chris Cain’s late spring EP is void of any percussion. There are no kicks or snares, and samples are used sparingly. The beat is there, though, in the togetherness of the repeated refrains, the laid-back tempos, and the on-point performances. That’s a profound notion.
As one of OKC hip-hop’s elder guardians of the Eastside, Chris “The God MC” Cain lives and breathes hip-hop and would never make a record without it. It’s impressive, then, that he continues to feel out boundaries of the genre while sticking to an old-school cred. He did so last year with the structurally inventive Now Showing, and he continues with Lucky to Be a Legend. It could be argued that the keyboard-centric instrumentals more resemble r&b, soul, or even lounge styles, but Cain’s rapping corrects any stray opinions on his music. This is some of the realest hip-hop around.
Listeners can expect the same hard-hitting flows as on prior Chris Cain projects. He preaches the usual values of culture, family, and artistic integrity, often with a tough-love intensity that drips passion and pride. On “Throwback Everyday”, he expresses concern over the legacy future hip-hop generations will leave. “Come Back Anyday” pays tribute to a fallen friend.
The showstopper of the bunch, though, is “We’re Alone Now”, which expresses deep love and admiration from a rare place of vulnerability. Cain’s heartfelt words are matched by soft, intricately layered instruments and supporting vocals as he celebrates his “black Marilyn Monroe” with abundant gratitude.
To help craft the elegant, organic atmosphere of Lucky to Be a Legend, Cain enlists the help of some supremely talented up-and-comers that include Sara Byrd, Ray June, and Zalta. Everyone involved is on the right page, which substantially helps when there’s no traditional rhythm section to ground the performances.
Lucky to Be a Legend doesn’t contain the coldest takes or tightest rhymes in the God MC repertoire, but perhaps that’s because he’s already proven he can spit like the best of them. This EP shines in a different shade of hip-hop, one that doesn’t aim to overwhelm in rapid-fire wordplay. Instead, it takes in deep breaths of day-to-day life and breathes out a lifestyle, one that doesn’t need a beat to find its rhythm.
aka Jarvix, the Chief Executive Weirdo of Make Oklahoma Weirder. His out-of-the-box music coverage has been published by the Oklahoma Gazette, KOSU, and The Oklahoman among others. He also makes DIY music as a solo multi-instrumentalist live looper in his spare time.