Examining Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper will be gracing the stages of the DC Metro area onChance the Rapper Sunday October 27 at 7 pm at The Fillmore giving a full set from his new mixtape, (basically a free album) Acid Rap.  Though many mainstream hip-hop listeners are not familiar with Chance the Rapper, he is definitely an up-and-coming artist to watch. He has made significant strides since his first Mixtape, 10 Days , which dropped barely a year and a half ago. With over 61,000 listens on the underground hip hop resource Datpiff, he quickly gained popularity over his lyrical prowess and unique sound in the hip-hop stratosphere. Following this release, he opened for Childish Gambino and was featured  in songs with Joey Bad*ss, Childish Gambino and Hoodie Allen. He even got nominated to be a part of  XXL’s 2013 Freshman Class, but this was just the beginning of Chance the Rapper’s career.

In April 2013, he released his second Mixtape,  Acid Rap. In this mixtape, he explores the reasons, implications, purposes and  sensations that are associated with being on acid and other mind-altering substances. He uses this backdrop to address diverse topics, from commentary on the violence in his Chicago hometown to the morality of God.  Make no mistake, though he at times superficially speaks positively about his acid abuse, he consistently shows the darker influence that acid has had on his life. Although he also speaks  about his use of drugs in 10 Day, Chance has greatly matured on so many fronts:  lyricism, rhythm, flow and topic subject . He opens the mix tape by speaking about his budding career with melodious choruses and danceable beats in “Good A*s Intro” and “Pusha Man”. In “Pusha Man,” he states, “ I’ll take you to the land, where the land made of sand, and the milk don’t pour and the honey don’t dance”.  He alludes to the fact that though he is in the land of promise, he has not yet reached  true success. By the end of this song, Chance’s darker side shows. In “Paranoia,” he addresses the exorbitantly high homicide rate in Chicago and the lack of media coverage on this issue.  He then explains  that he abuses acid as a way to superficially cope with these issues and goes on to expand upon his acid abuse in later tracks.

In “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and “Lost”, he addresses the dichotomy between the pain and the pleasure that comes also as a result from his constant acid abuse. Though this mixtape features other musicians such as Action Bronson, Childish Gambino, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Ab-Soul, the relatively unknown Noname Gypsy’s feature in “Lost” was arguably one of the most memorable. “Lost” tells the story of two lovers who consistently take acid together while examining the basis of their relationship throughout the song. While Chance laments  that he will never be his lover’s desired man and as a result, he abuses acid to cope with this fact , Noname Gypsy zones in on her loss of innocence due to this acid abuse. Her use of acid has made her ashamed to see her family and has again caused her to feel belittled.  In “Acid Rain,” “ Smoke Again,” “Chain Smoker” and other tracks, he continues to describe his sentiments regarding acid abuse. In “Acid Rain”, he states,  “I still be asking God to show his face…I am a new man, I am sanctified, I am holy, I have been baptized, I have been born again.”  Interestingly, he begins the song by saying that God is absent from his life, but then he ends the song by using the Biblical reference of baptism as salvation. However, instead of being baptized by the Holy Spirit, as is normal in the Christian tradition, he is being baptized and saved, at least temporarily, by acid.

Even though his songs carry serious themes, one of the most interesting aspects of Chance the Rapper is his lively and carefree personality. His outlandish character  continuously permeates through his music. With his unfailing ad-lib of “Igh!” interjected in almost every song and the jokes interspersed in songs with heavy topics, , it is hard not to share in some of his high as one continues to listen to his songs.  “Juice,” “Favorite Song,” “Everybody’s Something” and “ That’s Love/ Interlude” are feel-good songs that are adequate musical representations of Chance’s personality.

Except for his song, “Favorite Song,” he has yet to receive heavy radio time. Yes, maybe this is because he speaks about acid abuse in some of his songs, but one must be aware that every song by Chance the Rapper does not revolve around his acid abuse. Actually, his most radio friendly songs doesn’t really address his acid abuse. However, it is apparent that if he continues in his present direction, nothing but acclaim and success will be waiting for him in the future. Though drug abuse is an extremely serious phenomenon that affects many lives, it is admittedly compelling to hear about an individual’s struggle with his drug addiction and how it has affected his daily journey. The result of this interest in understanding how drugs affect the whole person is manifested by his mixtape reaching platinum status on Datpiff and an increasing number of people supporting his sound. If you have the opportunity and the willingness to enjoy quality hip hop, his concert in DC will be a must see.

Ogechi Nwodim, Leisure/Music Staff Writer 


The Fire This Time does not condone nor promote substance abuse in any form. 


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