‘Sun Come Down’ is, I think, a subtle means through which to pre-empt criticism. It’s a notable subversion of the all-too-common Twitter tirade that so often accompanies the lambasting of an artist’s work. Unlike Nicki’s mobilisation of her band of “Barbiez” in response to negative reviews of Queen
, however—or the release of Eminem’s Kamikaze
, which clapped back against public ridicule of Revival
—‘Sun Come Down’ is far less direct in its intentions. It is, as mentioned, pro—as opposed to retro—spective, and addresses not the critics, but Chance’s now-infamous wife figure. Distinct from Nicki and Eminem’s bitter, hate-filled rhetoric, it’s message is a positive one: shrug it off, that is; don’t look down. Like much of the album, I think it’s encouraging. However, what it ends up doing is, in a sense, closing the gate on criticism, and, in turn, leaving itself susceptible to something far worse.—Something less constructive.—Something more hateful.
What that means for the album is less clear to me. It’d be easier, I suspect, to dismiss the unfavourable opinions. But in spite of its superfluous album status, TBD
is the messiest Chance-led project since TSX’s Surf
. Coloring Book
, though it marked a considerable shift in sound for the Chicago acid rapper—and in spite of the occasional accusation of Bible-bashing—at least structured itself in a manner conducive to its own success. It capitalised, for one, on the success of its singles, whereas TBD
threw the biting likes of 'Work Out' and '65th & Ingleside' to the curb in favour a more dance-oriented sound. Deserved or not, though, I’m sceptical of a lot of the criticism directed toward TBD
—due, in part, to its Fantano-fueled meme standing, but also because it forces me to question what I liked about Chance the Rapper in the first place.
On Acid Rap
it was, without a doubt, his words: dude strung together senseless non sequiturs with a confidence that made the dumbest of lines sound borderline profound. A talent compromised on Coloring Book
, I think, to the chagrin of few—but in its wake, Chano found comfort in post-MBDTF
carelessness, and did so with considerable success. (Ye’s trumpet-mumbling on ‘All We Got’ remains the most beautiful of musical messes.) I think that exposes, to some extent, what I find so charming about TBD
, and indeed Chance himself—that is, the seamlessness with which he’s able to transform himself across projects. I mightn’t have liked Coloring Book
, for that matter), but I think that’s more contingent on the particular genre tropes Chance happened to be tackling on them. TBD
, on the other hand, wrangles with value-laden mindlessness in a manner that is both fun and endearing.
succeeds, in other words, on the merit of its recontextualisation of current trends into a project that is equal parts soapbox and sellable product—much like Coloring Book
, I’d argue, and, if I could be so bold, Acid Rap
, too. Like ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’ before it, TBD
manages to undercut its moral coding with a charming amount of humour. ‘Hot Shower’, the album’s first pop-trap banger (also, from what I gather, its worst offender), would sound vacuous if not for its angelic successor ‘We Go High’. Likewise, ‘Hot Shower’ and its siblings, ‘Handsome’ and ‘Big Fish’, prevent ‘We Go High’ from what might be mistaken for moral drivel. TBD
is, after all, nothing if not aware of itself. What emerges thus, is an album whose wholesome union of righteousness and mindless fun elevates it to a level I think few pop-rap albums are able to contend with.
I might sound defensive. This isn’t a defence, though, or a justification. It’s not an excuse because I don’t think the album needs one. At the same time, however, I’m struggling to come to terms with the hate for it—not because it’s undeserved, or, worse, “wrong”, but because I’d rather agree with the public than that of the critics. Then again, what’s the point of criticism? To shed light on an album, or to tell an artist what he or she’s doing wrong? That depends, I suppose; but in the end, I think, no matter how objective one intends to be, one’s writing can’t help but reflect them more than their subject. Perhaps that’s fine, though. Perhaps artists should be left to their own devices. Perhaps people should continue to reflect their surroundings. I don't know, though. Perhaps it’s something far simpler.—Something less objective.—Something more personal.
There’s value in that.