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Chicago Duo DefPrez Are Rapping on a Different Level

It’s one thing for rap artists to boast about their rhyming acumen to the listener; it’s another to simply demonstrate, as Chicago-based MC CrashPrez does on the track “Paper,” the reflective lead single from Prez and fellow Chicago rapper Defcee’s new album, It’s Always A Time Like This

On the track, CrashPrez waxes on his devotion to rap in an assonant flurry: “treat these stages like they sanctified / basement sofa been a wave to ride / we pace with pagan pride / faith adjacent to the famous lies / engraved in space and time / never make it haste but make mine” but then, right before starting the next bar, he realizes, “that’s too much rappin’ bout rappin,” To boot, he stuffs his next couplet with rhymes of “rappin’ bout rappin.”

The duo known as DefPrez released the project on April 14th as a follow-up to 2021’s Sundays Sessions. Last year, both MCs were steadily building on their respective solo missions. Defcee released his acclaimed album For All Debts Public And Private with the producer Boathouse. CrashPrez released two singles, “LANDMINE” and “make me come, leave me alone.” Now, they’re back to re-explore the DefPrez project, a pairing of two MCs with a lot to say — and many skills in their toolkit to express it. 

“Paper” is produced by knowsthetime, who handles production work on the whole of It’s Always A Time Like This. Musician Jamie Breiwick adds trumpets to the track, and the song’s gently blaring guitar feels like tufts of smoke as DefPrez pass a blunt and reflect on their rap career. The gnashing snares leave them room to rap deliberately but impactfully while telling their stories. Defcee croons the hook in between their verse: “We was splittin’ up the show paper / we done done it all for no paper.” The chorus orients the song in the waters of Defcee’s For All Debts…, where the power of a dollar loomed large. 


Defcee starts off his verse offsetting Crash’s measured pace with a double-time, dexterous verse showing off his knack for storytelling. “Dinner for two at a table for six / slept overnight in the car, hit the stage in that fit,” he rhymes, musing about how far he and his comrades have come. “All of my youngins are old at least they cold / im’ma forever be rappin they songs / as I’m remembering all of the studio trips when my big homies asked me to roll.” 

It’s a harrowing portrait of loving your craft so much that you’d do it for free — but they’re not trying to do that anymore.

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