Some MCs have that voice, an unmistakable presence on any track. Chance the Rapper will never be that dude. His raspy cackle sounds like an over-caffeinated Schoolboy Q, which can be exhausting at times. It’s an acquired taste for sure, similar to eating magic mushrooms. Still, for all these shortcomings, Chance is somehow defiantly nice on the mic. Acid Rap, his second mixtape, makes this abundantly clear.
Chance’s whole shtick is performative. Although he’s only twenty, he cut his teeth coming up in Chicago’s spoken word scene—a very different world than Chief Keef’s. You can feel the influence of countless poetry clubs in Chance’s resistance to a conventional flow or rhyme pattern. All that’s missing are the finger snaps from dingy basement clubs. Much like an open mic night, the success of this technique can be spotty.
As an ode to psychedelics, the Acid Rap tape has an underlying instability at its core. This erratic approach gives Chance the freedom to mess around and try different styles, with varying degrees of success. On “Cocoa Butter Kisses” (featuring Twista), he’s disarmingly poignant: “put Visine inside my eyes so my grandma would fucking hug me.” On “My Favorite Song” the cloying chorus plays like a bad trip locked inside a teenaged hellhole. Imagine dosing and strolling to a Forever 21 that you never leave—that is Chance at his worst.
But when he’s on, he brings a giddy shamelessness that’s as refreshing as it is fun. “NaNa” and its accompanying video, co-directed by stand up comedian Hannibal Burress for only $5,000, puts this euphoria on full display. It involves chicken suits, gaudy gold chains and Spiderman. Donald Glover stops by to mooch pizza. The bassline from “Sucka Niggas” doesn’t hurt either.
It unfortunately doesn’t feature Action Bronson, whose verse steals the song. Bronsolino shouts out Rick Patino and has “a team of hos like Pat Summitt.” This dude has a golden touch for features.
On “Pusha Man,” Chance says, “I hate crowded beaches, I hate the sound of fireworks.” It’s one of the most arresting moments of the tape, simultaneously brutal and beautiful. Last summer, murders rose 38% throughout Chicago, largely in the West and South Side, where Chancellor Bennett grew up—a stone’s throw away from Chief Keef’s headquarters in the Chatham neighborhood. Chance is usually the joker, covering over the grimness with comic relief, but sometimes shit is too real to hide from.
I’m mad that a person thought it was okay to pull another person’s pants down during their performance in front of about 700 other people. I’m mad that a person thought it was a good idea to perform a sex act on another person without their consent. I’m mad that nobody made her leave. I’m mad that Danny had to actually wonder what he was supposed to do at that point. I’m mad that when I went home and said I had no respect for that girl, I was attacked for being a “slut-shamer” (after literally leading a girl to his hotel room at 3AM at her request) and, even more outrageously, for being jealous of the girl who sucked his dick. I’m mad that when two dudes pulled my pants down onstage, other people got mad too, but when it happened to Danny the initial reaction was like one big high-five. I’m mad that people are treating “The Thing” like it’s some legendary event. I’m mad that even though they know exactly who the girl is, nobody in the media will even talk to her. I’m mad that I get a bunch of emails a day asking me to talk about my best friend’s “misogyny” and “classless behavior”, from people who have heard only rumors and seen only one very blurry and inconclusive iPhone photo.
The supervillain needs the right accomplices. There’s the good ones, like Madliband Ghostface, who complement DOOM’s weirdness and add their own. And then there are collaborations that look promising on paper but fizzle on wax. Exhibit A and B: Thom Yorke and Jneiro Jarel. I wanted to like Keys to the Cuff, but the busy, glitchy production never synched up with DOOM’s fragmented flow.
The latest henchman, Clams Casino, gives DOOM the space he needs. “Bookfiend” is all lazy synth stabs and ambient drums, the perfect backdrop for the Villain’s bizarre bars: “Taste stale/see the world in shades of grayscale.” Who else could say that with a straight face and sound ill?
Here’s to hoping DOOM snaps his string of underwhelming projects.
It’s true: white people love coffee table books. There’s nothing better than sipping your coffee from your coffee table lazily flipping through your coffee table book, which accomplishes the task of making you look really cool and smart for doing nothing better than staring at mostly big color photos and skimming some text you’ll soon forget. It’s hipster-ness defined.
And what group could be better at bringing a wry smile to the face of the aging hipster at their coffee tables than this news: the surviving Beastie Boys (Ad-Rock and Mike D) have just signed a deal with Random House for a book “celebrating their history and aesthetic,” according to the New York Times.
What we know is this: former ego trip editor Sacha Jenkins will oversee the project (released by subdivision Spiegel & Grau, of Jay-Z “Decoded” fame), and it will be a loose oral history of the group with contributions from other writers, something more of a “multidimensional experience” than a straight memoir (perhaps like the short-lived Grand Royal mag, they say). Oh, and lot’s of pictures.
What we don’t know: much else, as it’s slated for 2015. Start shopping for that perfect coffee table now.
Did you wake up and feel a disturbance in the Force? Like a seismic shift had occurred only on the Internet? Did Jordan unretire again? Is Pac the next president of Cuba? No, Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z just made a song together–a remix, no less, of “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe.” And it’s pretty good.