Chance the Rapper is evidently at a career peak at present. Following eight years of strong work ethic, the rapper has arguably solidified a presence as a renegade and vastly independent act. Beyond this, he’s the first act to receive a Grammy award for a stream-only project — with ‘Coloring Book’.
Now, Chance arrives with his debut album ‘The Big Day’ which marks a new chapter in the Chicago-raised talents life. As the project progresses, the events of this new novel make themselves known. Chance is in positive spirits throughout his LP. In fact, the majority of the 22 songs feature fast-paced, anthemic drum and bass laced pallets.
A particular example of this is the album's opener ‘All Day Long’. Also employing a combination of trumpet runs, tinged in places throughout the song, the rapper rejoices in his awareness of who he is and his growth. “We actin’ out” Chance spits throughout. It’s clear that a sense of worth and contentment fuels this album.
This laid-back and confident spirit refuses to be silenced and soon Chance the Rapper is experimenting with the likes of trap. Anyone that’s been a long-term fan of the act knows that the differences between ‘Acid Rap’ and ‘Coloring Book’ demonstrate Chance’s love of trying new pallets.
However, on ‘The Big Day’, his flirtation with trap proves tiresome. On ‘Hot Shower’ the cringeworthy bars are delivered in quick succession. By the time “Tryna catch some sleep / tryna count some sheep.” is uttered at fifty seconds, it feels as though the song has gone on forever and second-hand embarrassment sets in.
Where the ‘The Big Day’ truly succeeds are in places where it conveys passion, authority, and dedication. ‘Roo’ is a watershed moment in highlighting this capability. Joined by his brother Tony Bennett, Chance has his foot firmly on the gas pedal and rarely let’s off across the nearly three minute album-track. Discussing societal woes such as poverty and mental health, across a slower-paced electronic hip-hop backing, fans are reminded why they first fell in love with the artist in the first place.
Another way in which Chance the Rapper is able to sometimes captivate audiences is through his ability to come across as relatable. He does this in a variety of ways across ‘The Big Day’. An early marker of this mechanism is throughout ‘Do You Remember’. Linking nostalgia with the inevitable responsibilities of adulthood, Chance is humbled by the prospects of love and fatherhood. Joined by Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard, this is a shockingly beautiful song and one of a few album standouts.
Ironically, ‘The Big Day’ as a whole doesn’t sound cohesive at all. Although it largely conceptualises love, sonically Chance the Rapper isn’t able to comprise this theme into a succinct and smooth project. As the end of the album is reached, it’s clear that Chance had a lot to get off of his chest, however, it all appears to fall flat.
There are strong highlights across the set, despite this, the failure to be concise forms part of the force's biggest downfalls.
Words: Nicolas Tyrell
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