Review Summary: A spacey, heartfelt, and unique album from a growing rapper.
Chance the Rapper's latest mixtape is one that is pretty near and dear to my heart of late. Inspired by the Acid Jazz movement as well as the location of Chicago, Chance raps about life, smoking, family, acid, violence, nostalgia, drugs, and smoking. That isn't to say that there isn't any substance on this album, as there definitely is. Along with this, the production on this release is the smoothest and most listenable that I've heard in a long time. Horns, R&B backing vocals, and atmospheric sounds are layered throughout this release. While Chance's raspy and sometimes grating voice may deter some newcomers at first, it becomes clear that his style, flow and voice are perfect for this release, as if it was crafted around this aspect. Seeing as I like track by track reviews, I shall do just that.
1. Good Ass Intro (feat. Lili K., BJ the Chicago Kid, & Kiara Lanier)- Right off the bat we are exposed to Chance's unique style and rhythmic tendencies. I had never heard a beat like this before on a rap song, and although it may sound disjointed with the horns at first, it becomes more concrete in tandem with the great backing vocals by Lili K., BJ the Chicago Kid, and Kiara Lanier. As for the lyrics, Chance is just happy to be back in it again with this new tape after his previous tape, 10 Day. This is one of my favorite songs on this album and I still listen to it daily. - 9/10
2. Pusha Man (feat. Nate Fox & Lili K.)- While I like the idea behind this song and the verses and beat on it, I feel that it is a little too short to really amount to anything. It's a good song to relax to, but not something particularly thought provoking or special. Still pretty good, though. - 7/10
3. Paranoia - This is the hidden track after Pusha Man ends, which I feel is much better than its predecessor. In this song, Chance raps about the state of Chicago at the time and the large amount of violence in the city over a very spacey, atmospheric, and clunky beat. While I like spacey beats, I feel like lyrics with this much gravity deserve to be on a darker song as opposed to one that sounds like a daydream. Nevertheless, good track. - 8/10
4. Cocoa Butter Kisses (feat. Vic Mensa &Twista) - The fantastic single off of this mixtape, and the first song that I heard off of it. I have tried to think of critiques of this song, and I just can't. Chance's, Vic Mensa's, and Twista's verses are all rhythmically tight and on-point, and the theme of family and the regret of their disapproval is one that is very identifiable. This track has a fantastic production with the organ as well as a great hook, and objectively is probably the greatest song on the release. - 10/10
5. Juice - I really like this song. While Chance could have made the song about acid itself, he raps about his addiction, or as he calls it, "the curse of the juice." Had it been the other way around, I feel like the song would have thematically lost something. The sort of Hawaiian-fusion sounding hook was a weird choice for this track I think, but I like it nonetheless. I love chance's voice on the hook as well as the opening, and his overall enthusiasm on the track fits perfectly. - 9/10
6. Lost (feat. Noname Gypsy)- This more somber song is also one that I bump frequently. Rapping about love and rejection, Chance gets a little bit more sentimental on this track. While the hook is sort of short and the production is just ok, the real standout here is Noname Gypsy's verse, which is a great and heartfelt (albeit short) verse by a woman who has had her heart broken. The sentiment of this song is what makes me like it. - 7/10
7. Everybody's Something (feat. Saba & BJ the Chicago Kid)- While I'm not a huge fan of this song, I can't knock on the very happy and optimistic theme and message, which is sweetly delivered by BJ the Chicago Kid. No matter who you are, you can count on it that someone loves you, and that's just sweet. I'm just not a huge fan of the boom-bap beat on this track. - 6/10
8. Interlude (That's Love) - Although short, this song is very jocular and has aspects of old school soul and R&B with the layered vocals, as well as the topic of love. This isn't a sensual love, however, but more of a motherly, friendly love. Maybe a bit short to really go anywhere, but a decent track - 6/10
9. Favorite Song (feat. Childish Gambino) - Definitely my least favorite song. While it is a very accessible song, the lyrics have little meaning and the hook is very simplistic and forgettable. I dislike Childish Gambino as well, and he definitely does not do anything to persuade me otherwise on this track. - 4/10
10. NaNa (feat. Action Bronson) - I probably shouldn't like this track as much as I do. The beat is simplistic, and the lyrics, especially on Chance's part, are fairly meaningless. The hook can be annoying to some people (although not me personally), and it's just an OK song. But there's something about the inanity of this song that's so alluring. Hearing Action and Chance share "naaaa naaa naaaaaaa" near the end is funny, as is Action's entire verse ("With my hair slicked back, I look like Rick Pitino"). I just can't help but like this song. - 8/10
11. Smoke Again (feat. Ab-Soul) - Oh my God the bass on this song. It nearly blew out the subs in my car. I like Chance's inflection in his verses, and some of the lyrics are grin-inducing ("cops can eat a diiiiiiiiiiiiiick"). However, the hook is just ok and the song is fairly empty. Ab-Soul's verse is just horrible too, which really detracts from this song. Just decent overall. - 6/10
12. Acid Rain - This track is quickly growing into one of my favorites on this tape. I love his wordplay at the beginning, and as opposed to the darker lyrics of Paranoia, the nostalgic ones on this track are perfect for this spacey, great beat. His "hook" near the end is really good and well-done, too. This is the type of spacey song that I just can't get enough of and will eat up every time. - 9/10
13. Chain Smoker - Another one that is growing on me. I love the hook on this, as well as the dubbed vocals in the back of Chance's singing. I love the verses and the way that Chance raps on this one. I can't attest too much to the lyrics, but from a pure musical standpoint, this song is just great. - 9/10
14. Everything's Good (Good Ass Outro) - Yet another sentimental song, and a perfect way to end the album. I love the deep, unexpected inflection at the end of most of his lyrics on this song, and the beat is just great. The lyrics are fairly good, and the production on this track is just amazing. I thought the rehash instrumental thing at the end of this track was meh, but it has grown on me as well. This tape couldn't have ended better than with this song. - 10/10
Please consider that to me, 7-10/10 songs are the good ones on this release, and the ones that are the most worthwhile. I can't believe that it took me way longer than the release date to get this tape, because I was missing out big time. Although I rated some songs lowly, I still think that in the context of the album, they work great hand in hand with each other. Chance is a growing rapper and I cannot wait to see where he will go next with his career.