A quick aside to all the gamers out there, do you ever come across an album that you find yourself putting on every time you fire up your console? And within two days you know it like the back of your hand, despite the fact you’re not entirely conscious of ever having listened to it? Well, currently the soundtrack to my FIFA career (it’s going really well, in case you were wondering) is Chance the Rapper’s 2012 mixtape #10Day . Why tell you all that? Because the more I listen to it, the more I get the feeling that this guy is about to seriously blow up. And if my white-middle-class hip-hop knowledge is anything to go by (which it obviously is), his first album Acid Rap (set for release on April 30th) is going to be huge.
As covered fairly comprehensively in its lyrics, #10day has its origins in a suspension Chance received from Chicago’s Jones College Prep School. Alright, so as autobiographic hip-hop goes, it’s hardly Dance with the Devil, but that’s kind of the best thing about it. It feels a lot like Kanye West’s Graduation and Late Registration, but it’s actually coming from a 17-year-old high school student. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Its charm lies in its playfulness and honesty; a 10-day suspension from school isn’t dressed up as if it’s a life sentence for murder. However, a lot the time it’s clear that Chance hasn’t quite found his voice yet. ’22 Offs’ is, by Chance’s own admittance, a throw back to Jay-Z’s ’22 Twos’; similarly, ‘Windows’ (‘This is six blunt rotation music / This is just got off six month probation music’) is forgivably reminiscent of Kanye’s ‘Crack Music’.
Chance fluctuates between vocal styles and (rightfully so) has drawn comparisons with early Eminem and Outkast, as well as those mentioned above. As I’ve said, however, this naivety isn’t necessarily a bad thing; each track gives you the feeling that not only does Chance know that he’s finding his feet, but also that he doesn’t care. Moreover, in terms of production as well as lyrics, it’s clear that #10Day hasn’t just been thrown together. The samples – particularly the use of Beirut on ‘Long Time’, Brenda Russell on ‘Prom Night’ and the Fatback funk beat on ‘14,400 Minutes’ – are well thought out and wide ranging.
Luckily, this focus on making not just good lyrics, but all round good hip-hop tracks seems to be something that’s set to continue with Acid Rap. With over a month to go until it’s released, three tracks from the forthcoming album are readily available: ‘Juice’, ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘Good Ass Intro’. ‘Acid Rain’ is more chilled out and pensive lyrically. The lead single, ‘Juice’, is about the most melodic hip-hop track you’re likely to hear. Again, you could say the style’s not quite his own (every time it finishes I want to yell “CAARROOLLIIIIINNEE”), but, again, I think it would be hard to insist that this is a bad thing. Acid Rap’s opener-to-be, ‘Good Ass Intro’ does exactly what it says on the tin, complete with one of the funkiest gospel-hip-hop hooks around – ‘Even better than I was the last time baby / I’m good’.
As far as I can tell, prior to the album release Chance seems happy to give most of his music away free. The entirety of #10Day is available here, Acid Rain here and Juice here. Chance the Rapper also features on Joey Bada$$’ ‘Wendy N Becky‘ track dropped last month. Now if free music doesn’t make you excited to go out and buy an album, I don’t know what will.By Will Chalk