Chance the Rapper gets a lot of love from Chicago folks, especially as a Chicago native himself, but that love didn’t bloom until after the release of his mixtape 10-Day, created on a 10-day suspension from high school. After releasing said mixtape on Columbia College’s AEMMP records and catching the eye of Childish Gambino, the rest is history. People are turning on, tuning in, and dropping the needle on Chance’s debut LP Acid Rap.
Acid Rap’s “Good Ass Intro” isn’t best defined by the limitations of its name—it’s a great ass song altogether. The jivey brass instruments bring this album in on a high note while Chance raps over feel-good backup vocals on loop. This good vibe extends into “Pusha Man,” with its early 2000s sound, and beyond into the rest of the album.
Serving as a sort of Part II to “Pusha Man,” an ethereal and ultimately chill electric piano rolls along on the semi-hidden track, “Paranoia.” Chance spits about the violence he experienced as a Chicago native and croons out his prayers for an early spring because “everybody’s dying in the summer.” It’s also funny that this awesome track is left without its own slot—though being the most serious moment on a fun-loving album like Acid Rap merits its treatment as an aside.
Flow is key on Acid Rap. Song on top of song, they fit together like puzzle pieces that are glued together with Chance’s seamless style and idiosyncratic squawks, yelps, and an occasional “na-na-na” thrown around the beat.
These quips and his lyrics are hilarious, but not in an abrasive way like Tyler the Creator’s. His voice is whiney, but not like he’s faded on too many pharmaceutical drugs, as is the case with Li’l Wayne. It’s all Chance, and in a dried up rap game, his fresh voice is welcome.
Chance wraps his slurred and alliteration-riddled rhymes around Acid Rap‘s occasional old-timey sounds that blur into sweet, jazzy hooks and awkward beat chops. Songs like “Juice” start off with an EQ that makes the mixtape sound like it’s playing out of a Dictaphone. Chance doesn’t miss an opportunity to swing in with smooth, R&B-style singing to complement his already suave flow on “Lost” and “Everybody’s Somebody.”
The whole album seems to be wrapped between puffs from a cigarette, flowing out of a mind swirling from hits of acid and a bag of mushrooms. Psychedelic, 8-bit synths and electric chimes dwell over “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” where Chance dishes about the addictions of the world between samples of chain-smoking coughs, and, rather fittingly, “Chain Smoking” follows the same flow.
Seeing as Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) was instrumental in bringing Chance to public attention, it makes sense that he steps in on “Favorite Song.” The track’s feel-good, summery tone is a glaring example of the marketability of Chance’s sound. He often references the nostalgia of his age group, which includes everything from the orange cassette tapes of Nickelodeon days to country stars Rascal Flats.
Acid Rap is psychedelic, but fits in on a state-school kegger playlist, and despite being catchy, you’ll find it on a playlist made by and for trippers. It’s not anything exciting like Death Grips, and it’s nothing hard like Wu-Tang, but Acid Rap will throw Chance into the limelight, and there’s no doubt he’s got way more in him.
Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap tracklist:
- “Good Ass Intro (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid”
- “Pusha Man (feat. Nate Fox & Lili K)”
- “Cocca Butta Kisses (feat. Twista & Vic Mensa)”
- “Lost (feat. Noname Gypsy)”
- “Everybody’s Something (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid & Saba)”
- “Interlude (That’s Love)”
- “Favorite Song (feat. Childish Gambino)”
- “Nana (feat. Action Bronson)”
- “Smoke Again (feat. Ab-Soul)”
- “Acid Rain”
- “Chain Smoker”
- “Good Ass Outro”