Chancelor Bennet, better known as Chance the Rapper, is one charismatic guy. I actually got the chance and privilege to see him perform live prior to this mix tape release. It was at a Childish Gambino concert and he was the opening act for the show. As one would assume, no one gave him much attention at the beginning due to no one knowing who he was but by the end of his act, the crowd was rooting for him. They were chanting “Juke Juke Juke” and following along with the chorus of “Put that on my Momma”. His charismatic and energetic personality along with his great stage performance allowed him to captivate an entire crowd that had never even heard of him before. That in its own right is amazing. Now Chance has gained himself much deserved attention with the release of his mix tape “Acid Rap”.
Transitioning from his previous “10 Day” mix tape to “Acid Rap”, you can clearly hear a huge difference production wise. He clearly had the opportunity to work with a lot more expensive gear to create this album and it is definitely displayed in this project. Chance has also rounded up an impressive group of features on the tape such as Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, and Ab-Soul. As I have mentioned before, Chance just excretes personality. He also happens to leak his personality throughout his work. In “Acid Rap”, you will definitely feel his personality reverberate through his music. It’s what honestly makes this mix tape such a joy to listen to. “Acid Rap” takes you on a ride through pain, loss, love, and insane drug trips all while having solid production and infectious hooks.
The moment the opening track “Good Ass Intro” begins, it is quickly apparent that the production has widely improved from Chance’s previous tape. There are more refined and brighter sounds this time around that were otherwise nowhere to be found on “10 Day”. The production on this project can be described as a feel good, Rastafarian, and acid-trippy like. In some ways it can also be described as a roller coaster of high and lows. Quite possibly my favorite track, “Pusha Man” illustrates this the best. It begins with this energetic and very upbeat atmospheric sound. After a 30 second gap found near the middle of the track, it takes a complete change of pace. Listeners are greeted with surreal and haunting production that is completely different from the first half of the song. Chance also follows this formula with the placement of tracks such as the track “Juice” which has this playful and lively production. As opposed to the following track “Lost”, which has a more mellow, subtle, and sweet production.
This project does an excellent job at setting up a platform and mood for the subject matter of songs. On “Cocoa Butter Kisses”, the track has this very smooth, sort of endearing production. With some faint “oooooooing” in the back ground and occasional coughs, this production sets up for a very charming and heartfelt track. On the track “Favorite Song”, you get this enjoyable guitar riff along with some clap beats to arrange a very fun and entertaining song. Overall, the production on this project is a huge improvement from “10 Day” and completely solid. There aren’t any drawbacks as the production successfully plays second fiddle in allowing the songs message in the lyrics to be delivered.
Chance has this certain vibe that he gives off when listening to his work. The sound in his voice gives you the feeling that he’s smiling throughout the entire making of this project. His personality just naturally radiates out of his songs. His personality is one of the greater aspects of the album. The zany “Igh” and reoccuring “Na Na Na” that appear through the album can be a hit or miss with some people but personally I very much so enjoyed them. I think it is what separates him from other hip hop artists. “Acid Rap” from intro to finish is widely entertaining but can feel too short. Due to its short length, it is very easy to completely miss some of the deeper meanings rooted within the album. “Acid Rap” covers a whole lot of ground with subject matter such as love, joy, pain, and loss in such a short project that is comprised of only 13 tracks.
The first track “Good Ass Intro” is exactly what I expected from Chance when I first listened to this project. It’s exactly how outlandish and wild he was on his previous work and came to no surprise. What I did not expect was the track “Pusha Man”. The track begins with Chance illustrating the life he used to live when he was dealing: “I got that Mmm Mmm /I got that god damn /I’m yo pusha man/ I’m yo, I’m yo pusha man.” Chance’s glorious life is short lived because around the 2 minute mark, it gets dead silent. As I’ve mentioned before, a huge change of pace occurs and a whole different atmosphere is played out. “I’ve been riding around with my blunt on my lips/With the sun in my eyes, and my gun on my hip/Paranoia on my mind, got my mind on the fritz.” The second part of this song delves into the darker issue of an increasing murder rate in his home state, Chicago. It’s interesting that this track is divided the way it is. He begins as this high rolling drug dealer with no care in the world ,then the song transitions to what feels like a hit of reality of being a drug dealer. Chance illustrates his paranoia and anger about the uncovered issues in Chicago, he even goes as far as taking a jab at the News for not covering the rising violence. This song may even have a more deeper rooted meaning underneath. Chance’s friend was murdered in front of him when he was just 18 years old so the song may correlate with the feelings of losing his friend. The next track “Cocoa Butter Kisses” could have not come at a better time. This track is about Chance missing his friends and most importantly his mom’s “cocoa butter kisses”. All of the weed he’s been smoking has been causing tension between him and his loved ones, who don’t want to get near him anymore because of the stank of the weed. I really liked how this song is directly after “Pusha Man”. Chance illustrates an ugly picture of Chicago and narrates all of the horrible crime he witnesses and after all of that he just wants the warm embrace of his mother. The track exemplifies his vulnerability and the placement of the track just reinforces it.
This album isn’t all about love and loss either, it’s overwhelmingly an amusable and entertaining experience with tracks such as “NaNa”, “Favorite Song”, and “Juice”. On the track “NaNa” we get some playful lyrics from Chance but in my opinion, Action Bronson steals the show with his completely out of this world lyrics. “I rep the East Coast, I got a team of hoes like Pat Summit/I look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a black hummer (get to the chopper)/I splash summer like a fast brother.” If some of you aren’t aware of who Action Bronson is, Google an image of him and then let that last line soak in for a bit. The track “Favorite Song” is an upbeat track with Chidlish Gambino as the feature, who in my opinion delivered a subpar verse. “Juice” is a wildly amusing track about how Chance has the “Juice” of course! This track is basically a triumphant chant of how he’s got it all. He cleverly uses “Juice” to represent his bravado and power all while chanting it throughout the entire track. It’s great to see him in this aspect as he boasts and soaks in the success he has obtained as of late. Chance also manages to squeeze in a love song called “Lost”. This love song is basically about this girl chance wants to get completely toasted with. The way this track is produced and the way Chance lulls the listener with his lyrics makes up for a very attractive and seductive track.
An aspect that deserves its own short section has to be the infectious chorus’s littered across this entire project. From the sweet chorus of “Cocoa Butter Kisses” to the proud chant on “Juice” to the inspiring hook on “Everybody’s Something” . There are plenty hooks that can just stick with you all day long! Not only does chance deliver a project that rewards the listener by listening intently to his lyrics, it also excels as just back ground music with all the catchy hooks.
If I have one major gripe with this projects its that more serious matters interlaced within the project aren’t developed enough. Chance exchanges darker and deeper subject matters for more energetic, upbeat songs. Personally, I really appreciated the tracks with more serious matters and would like to see more of those types of songs. For Example, “Acid Rain” is a song devoted to Chance’s friend who passed away and how he dealt with the pain. This song had me immersed with its slow haunting production and emotionally charged lyrics. ” My big homie died young; just turned older than him/I seen it happen, I seen it happen, I see it always/He still be screaming, I see his demons in empty hallways.” Tracks like “Pusha Man” and “Acid Rain” connect the listener with the artist. Sadly, this is where the project lacked. Another little drawback where some of the big name features that just failed to deliver. Of course this isn’t Chance’s fault but I think Childish and especially Ab-Soul could of delivered a bit more. When Ab-Soul spits the line ” No doubt like Gwen Stefani’s group/Let me put my mouth where you potty, boo” you’d have to think he wasn’t even trying. Besides the few gripes, this project was excellent in every way possible.
Chance has forced his way into the music scene with this project and has delivered a 13 piece work of art. Now, he is in the position to become something more than the new kid on the block and propel himself into the circle of contemporary hip-hop greats. “Acid Rap” is a short ride through Chance’s personality and touches on certain aspects through different angles that have never been used before. He successfully fills in a void in the hip-hop world today with his own niche music and I think will continue to fill the void. As Chance says on his last track “Everything’s Good(Good Ass Outro)” he isn’t really good with good bye’s. For our sake, let us hope he isn’t so he can continue his musical acid-filled journey.