Some time ago, I remember hearing of some kid from Chicago going by the name Chance the Rapper.
I also remember thinking that his name is fairly self-explanatory. I appreciate that.
As a music aficionado who delves deep into hip hop, I figured I’d give him a shot despite my waning interest in the genre. I gave a half-hearted listen to one of his songs back in 2013 (sadly, I can’t remember which) and I was immediately turned off by Chance’s kinda-sorta off-key voice.
It was March of 2014 when I finally decided to give the Chicago-bred emcee another listen. It was all due to stumbling across his video for “Juice,” an infectious, care-free tune sprinkled with psychedelic references.
Well, this was right up my alley! I was (and still am) at a place in my life where I’m a sucker for feel-good music. I’m not talking about some syrupy sweet, bubblegum pop music. No way. I’m talking about music that makes you feel light.
If that makes any sense.
With a more open mind and a set of open ears, I dove into his two available mixtapes. What I discovered was an eccentric young artist with a bit of genius bubbling underneath the surface of his limited musical offerings. I got the same feeling from him that I got from Kanye West when I first heard the beats he produced for Talib Kweli back on his album Quality. This wasn’t just a rapper. This was an artist.
I swear, there’s something in the water in Chicago.
Strangely enough, the rapper known as Chance seems to have a clarity that Kanye lacks. Where Kanye is always fighting for respect and acknowledgement, Chance the Rapper feels more freeform and willing to explore both himself and music. He plays with lyrical wizardry, cadence, and melody, tiptoeing deftly from one to another. Sure, he has his hiccups, but other than Kendrick Lamar, he’s the most exciting thing in hip hop in my opinion.
I never thought one person could inspire me musically to the degree Chance the Rapper has. The last time I was this inspired was probably (once again) the first time I discovered Kanye, questionable douchebaggery aside. I can, after all, separate the artist from the art as long as there are no Stephen Collins-style shenanigans afoot.
After listening to Chance and some other non-hip hop acts like Broken Bells, I rethought how I was making music. I began toying with singing more (I’m not a great singer, but I have a tight range where I’m listenable), I explored deep, abstract topics, and my verses became less about a strict cadence and more about the flow of the song as a whole.
Anyway, I know Chance’s offering aren’t for everyone. As a matter of fact, my fiancé hates his voice and though I no longer agree with that sentiment, I also understand that particular cup of tea isn’t her ideal. Still, give the guy a chance…
Har, har, har
…and listen to what he’s putting out there. He’s been releasing some songs with The Social Experiment via Soundcloud, but I REALLY recommend his mixtape, Acid Rap. There’s some quality work there. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired too.
Acid Rap: http://www.datpiff.com/Chance-The-Rapper-Acid-Rap-mixtape.483826.html
10 Day: http://www.datpiff.com/Chance-The-Rapper-10-Day-mixtape.337986.html
Peace out, party people.