Review Summary: Looking back like a pillar of salt
When Chancellor Bennett first burst onto the scene, his come up was refreshingly charming-a hyperactive and omnivorous talent that contrasted the dire circumstances his beloved home state found itself mired in. When he expanded his range on the minor classic Acid Rap
, adding emotional grit and contextual heft to his sticky lyrical acrobatics and galvanizing ad-libs, a new star had officially been coronated. Never mind that his appearance on Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ was endlessly labeled as his coming out party; to his already massive fan base, it was not an unveiling but an affirmation. That all seems like an eternity ago now, not least because the radical failings of The Big Day
are so numerous but also far-reaching. There was a laundry list of red flags before one could even hear the album: a string of limp and uninspired singles; multiple instances of Chance irrationally lashing out at fans on social media; and the worst album rollout I’ve ever seen, which has been very quickly swept under the rug but involved the artist advertising an “album listening party” hosted and sponsored by Spotify in which he unceremoniously announced the album wasn’t coming out yet and only played one new song. These circumstances may not seem entirely important when it comes to the actual album we’ve been presented here, but Chance The Rapper has always marketed himself as a benevolent presence whose giddy personality was every bit as important as the music he makes, so be assured it’s criticism on the artist’s own terms.
This slowly derailing train has reached its end with the release of The Big Day
. A grab bag clump of poor radio rap hooks, beige and alarmingly low energy production, and a truly baffling feature list that is glaringly absent of Chicago artists, another vital factor Chance has repeatedly hinged his entire career on, it’s a project dead on arrival. With a cynically Drakeonian runtime and not a whiff of cohesion, Chance presents 22 tracks of wildly clashing styles that go in one ear and out the other. I’d be willing to bet a limb that a significant number of these songs have the exact same beat of oscillating 808’s and hi-hats slightly re-worked. The times when The Rapper part of this whole bargain makes itself known are confounding in their rarity, as Chance mumbles his way through uninspired and corny lines. The guy ends his long-awaited debut on a grating verse from the queen of pop rap herself, Nikki Minaj, who mostly delivers lyrically but fails abysmally with her obnoxiously erratic flow. Remember when it was Chance The Rapper’s moment, and nobody else could speak? That ship has long sunk now, and just as well: the bloated, arrogant and lifeless The Big Day
presents an artist with nothing to say.