Offbeat Beats: Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper
Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper - or ‘I’m standing in front of the future, Chance the Rapper.’ Kanye West at the 2016 VMAs.
Offbeat Beats is a series that tries to bring to you and explore a variety of interesting and unique albums that you may not have heard of.
Chicago’s own Chancellor Bennett, stage name Chance the Rapper, may be the next big thing in Hip-Hop. His 2016 instant-classic new-age hip-hop / Gospel / Neo-Soul mixtape Coloring Book became the first album to chart on Billboard 200 with streams alone, became the first stream-only album to get a Grammy nomination, and spawned summer mainstream hit ‘No Problem’. He’s 23 years old. So this week we’re going to take a look at the mixtape that put him on the map, and on the track to his now seemingly inevitable international superstardom, his sophomore 2013 mixtape and cult-classic Acid Rap.
Acid Rap just tried to crush every stereotype or thought of what Hip-Hop can or should be. From the opening track - the aptly titled ‘Good Ass Intro’ - it’s clear that there’s just so much going on with the album. He raps over a nice vocal riff from a track on an early Kanye mixtape, adds a harmonizing gospel choir, jazz elements with a rolling baseline, blaring pseudo-organ chords through a piano, and then on top of that throws on a juke drums. With even more layering, just when you think it’s about to end, a blaring horn arrangement and synth comes on. It’s all delightfully, gloriously, gigglingly bonkers. It just takes all these amazing elements and ideas from musical, and particularly Chicago musical history - soul and jazz and gospel - and strings these moments together with modern production, drum elements, and socially conscious spoken-word-inspired rapping and singing - tying them into chains and then strings of chains and then into classic track after classic track.
It works and it’s done with College Dropout (which Chance himself has expressed his love and admiration for) levels of growling - I don’t care what anyone says or thinks I’m just going to make the music I want to using the music that I love and tell you exactly what’s on my mind no matter what you might think. It’s executed with so much self-confidence, so much love, that it’s impossible not to get caught up in it all. ‘Juice’, sampling a track from soul artist Donny Hathaway, flips between Chance’s own ad-libs and beautifully pitched up vocal samples and layers on top over a lazy and rolling programmed drum loop. And then there's 'Interlude (that’s Love)’ which opens with jazz chords, rolls into a gospel/spoken-word speech over a piano and sunny open guitar licks, transitions into delightful hook backed with bass and choir, and then explodes into a blur of drums and call-and-response and proclamations of love.
There aren’t many 20 year olds who make music like this, birthed in a history of amazing early-mid 20th Century music that’s laid low for a little too long, bred through years of practice during high-school at open-mic nights and poetry-slam events, powered by the a blend of confidence and youth and pride. Acid Rap isn’t always happy, or funny, or upbeat - but at least it’s always itself. It’s funny, silly, serious, ridiculous, self-confident and 100 other things at once, it’s literally overflowing with personality, originality, creativity, and energy - things sometimes too absent from the mainstream and their sterilized levels of production and image management. Over the course of 13 tracks, it may not be refined or controlled, but it says more about the experience of being a young and joyous minority in America just trying to make the music that you love than most other things do. That’s really the legacy of Acid Rap, who’s critical acclaim and cult-classic status launched an already up-and-coming artist into the stratosphere; that when you’re that calm, and comfortable and happy with yourself and the music that you want to produce - maybe you really are the future.
Featured Image Via
All Photos Via Chance The Rapper's Official Instagram
Listen to Acid Rap on Soundcloud: