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Mixtape Review: Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap

Just over a year ago, Chance the Rapper released his debut mixtape #10Day, a project inspired by a suspension from school in his senior year. It showcased a promising young man with raw talent and sharp instincts. Now, after much hype, Chance returns with his sophomore effort Acid Rap, a complicated, comprehensive journey into the curious mind of an artist starting to come into their own.

A young Kanye West and Chicago’s sonic roots serve as the obvious reference points for Chance’s sound. “Good Ass Intro” is a rework of Ye’s Freshman Adjustment 2 intro and two tracks feature a Chicago Juke breakdown. His delivery is highlighted by a quirky and pitchy voice that drifts somewhere in between rapping and singing. It’s a calculated kind of freewheeling that sounds effortless yet designed simultaneously. Chance’s interesting choice of collaborations is another highlight of Acid Rap, and instead of going for the biggest names, Chance chooses artists who are equally unique as him, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul, BJ The Chicago Kid and Childish Gambino among others.  These selections help Acid Rap’s singular vision instead of turning the mixtape into a mosh posh of ideas, a mistake often made by buzzing prospects eager to attach starpower to their resume.

“Pusha Man” is a record that captures Chance’s essence. There’s a duality here, with the song starting as an youthful, elated track laced with spirited bravado and eccentric ad-libs. Once the beat stops though, it takes a turn into a somber territory, with Chance shining a light into the harsh reality of Chicago’s South Side. “They murkin’ kids, they murder kids here/Why you think they don’t talk about it? They deserted us here/ Where the fuck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here.” It’s this awareness of his surroundings and the social ramifications of them that make Chance such a bright talent. “Acid Rain” is another standout, where the MC contemplates his place in life and more existential questions. “I think love is beautiful, too/Building forts from broken dams, what a hoover could do / For future hoopers dead from Rugers, shooting through that empty alley/Could’ve threw him an alley-oop, helping him do good in school” the 20-year-old ponders.

The production and it’s outstanding cohesiveness play as important of a part in Acid Rap’s success as Chance’s emerging voice. It’s rich, soulful sound incorporates the use of brass instrumentation and the influence of Acid Jazz bands is prevalent throughout.

Ultimately, Acid Rap’s biggest victory is living up to it’s own hype and Chance’s careful packaging of his artistry. There aren’t many 20-year-old rappers in 2013 with enough confidence in their craft to allow a year to go by between releases, let alone completely deliver on the hype built. This thoughtfulness, patience and planning makes for a beautiful, thorough and compelling body of work that may see Chance usurp Chief Keef as the face of their ailing city. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)

  • 2012Industry1

    Yes! You guys got this 1000% right! This was a very pleasant surprise! Great album!

  • Dakota

    This mixtape had some good stuff on it but you rated it above Los’ Becoming King lol.

    • http://twitter.com/schrockboy Jordan Schrock

      its better than becoming king though

    • honesty

      way more cohesive and unique than Becoming King

    • http://twitter.com/DLloyd24 D-Lloyd

      Los bite too many styles, that bitch made nigga ain’t no king.

  • Oedipus

    You guys really need to find better writers. This guy’s writing sounds so insincere and unnatural that I couldn’t even make it through the second paragraph. Stop trying to sound smart and actually do some real, deep critical thinking, buddy.

    • Dub-ES

      This is coming from the guy who co-opted the name Oedipus. You realize Oedipus killed his father and banged his mom, right? Why on Earth would you willingly make that your name on here?

  • http://twitter.com/DustinMyBalls Dustymac

    Should be all the way up for originality this guy is a genius

    • Oedipus

      I’m talking about the author of this article. I agree, Chance is a genius.

  • Smitty Werbenjagermenson

    Lyrically this should have been a XXL. This guy’s flow is amazing and unique and the “rasta/reggae” packaging is pretty nice as well.

    • DJDJD

      I’m not so sure about an XXL for lyrics but i’d definitely agree for an XXL for the beats on this things

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikko.m.munoz Nikko Markus Munoz

    Should’ve been a XXL in my opinion. The beat selection was unique, the track list flowed, lyrics (including delivery and flow) were dope and this tape had originality all over it. Yes, i know the Dilla sample was in there but it’s not like many people would’ve noticed had he started the song without the original song. XXL in my books.

  • Divided_Eye

    This is waaaay overhyped. The adjectives used to describe this make it sound like something from the gods… like the packaging of some sort of fine chocolates. Ridiculous. The music itself is OK, but far from as “original” and “seamless” and the article seems to make it out to be. I don’t really like it.

    • TM

      How is it far from original? I haven’t heard anything that sounds similar to this mixtape. This guy’s flow is unique and the beats are great. Each song transitions nicely and the most of the mixtape has repeat value.

      • Divided_Eye

        look, im not saying its a terrible mixtape. im just saying that this article makes it sound like its the second coming of christ… and it isnt.

      • Divided_Eye

        and i mean for a 20-year-old, its pretty good. i guess i just dont like the style

    • RR

      For every solid album or mixtape ever made, there’s some clown like you that says its “overrated” or “overhyped”, without ever pointing to anything specific. And the “quote” marks don’t change “anything” that you typed, just made you “look” like a “jackass.”

      • Divided_Eye

        lol, your cunty comment isnt convincing me any further that this release is as great as you purport it to be. the lyrics are weak as hell, nothing really clever about them. i will admit he has pretty good flow, and the beats are sick… but IMO its just a mashup of lil wayne/j cole.

        • RR

          I wasn’t trying to “change” your “mind”. And I never mentioned how “great” I thought it was. The lyrics are on point, Im sorry your mind is just too feeble to hear them. Be “easy” friend. Funny thing is, in terms of style, its nothing like Lil Wayne or J. Cole. The only thing you’ve got is the voice kind of sounds similar. You’re cute though lol

          • Divided_Eye

            youre hilarious. to each their own man, i dont care if other people like it. my main point was that this article goes over the top with the hype on this mixtape. check out artists like Aesop Rock or Cannibal Ox and then tell me this guys lyrics are deep.

          • Divided_Eye

            and if youre not trying to change my mind, why bother commenting? you just get off on bitching at people online? lol

  • tammm’

    i believe the lyric is the emerging kids… they murder kids here. correct me if i am wrong.

  • Geetroit

    I think if the writer would’ve gave the kid what he deserved on his first release that he planned it would’ve been like hyping him up too much but it definitely is a XXL and was the best anything (mixtape/album) out of music last year imo. Nothing comes close to that feeling of finding a new artist you like after sleeping on him for a year. Did the same thing with Drake didn’t listen to him til Take Care was out a year.