Review Summary: "you can fall much faster than you think you can"
Somewhere between Acid Rap
and now, Chance lost his voice. I don't mean his raps or his flow – there's spitting on "All Day Long", at least, that's as good as anything he used to do, and his new religious/marriage bars are only as corny as his entire shtick always has been. No, it's far worse than that – Chance lost his voice
. He's no longer the artist who put together 13-track hitters as consistent and thematically tight as any album. Now he throws out loosies and bogs down a project 'til it sounds like any mixtape. If this is the big day Chance The Rapper has been waiting for, he's been saving up filler for years.
Lil Chano from 79th has also stepped well outside the bubble of the Chicago sound he helped lead to a renaissance. (The lack of Noname feature was likely the first sign for longtime fans that something was amiss with The Big Day
). Collaborating with different artists for some new energy isn't in itself bad, and John Legend, Smino and little brother Taylor Bennett all come correct to hold it down for Chance's hometown. So what went so
wrong? Well, the jarring and cynical Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane and DaBaby features play like musical clickbait, designed to pad out the feature list as much as possible when it gets typed out on Wikipedia, and Minaj having the last word on the album overall comes off as borderline Kanye parody. Even putting these aside, godawful skits and filler abound, mostly in the album's lumpy second half – and the less said about "Hot Shower" the better. Chance has never been hurting for some Ye production more when even the best impersonators Chance could find, producing last year's "I Might Need Security" or "The Man Who Has Everything", delivered better content than the third dancey one-off in a row in The Big Day
's appalling third act.
What a shame all this dead weight wasn't tossed off the album instead of great cuts "Work Out" and "65th & Ingleside". What a shame that all this drowns out the flashes of a solid project, which on the second half of the album is basically the understated "5 Year Plan" and lovely, ambient-inflected "Town on the Hill". Nothing on the first half stacks up to the euphoric rush of "All Day Long", which could have been recorded right after Acid Rap
with its confidence and lack of self-sabotage via poor decision-making. Even so, the title track almost touches on something with the relaxing vocal melody which gets upended by some Frank Ocean-on-"Biking" ***, and it's well lined up by the energetic throwback sound of "Roo". I'm cherrypicking here, because that's what you do with an unwieldy, 80-minute record that was barely promoted and likely rushed to release. It's not 22 tracks of straight garbage, but the idea that Chance had three very viable debut album candidates but chose this as his big day would be funny if it wasn't so deeply frustrating. Chi-town will be fine, Chance has long since passed that torch to the likes of the conspicuously absent Saba and Noname, but talent going to waste is somehow worse than just hearing no talent at all. But hey, maybe that 7-track Kanye album will have a couple bangers.