Chance the Rapper-Acid Rap mixtape review
Acid Rap is a startling first listen. I guess the prerequisite is being able to enjoy the playfully childish nasally delivery Chance the Rapper brings to every song. If you do, every verse comes out as an amorphous blob that seems like it could end and become a chorus at any time. The power in the project is that feeling of the unexpected hanging over every moment of every song. He rhymes words with each other like a juggler adding more balls, like AZ circa Do or Die. The difference is that AZ was going in on street life from a D-Boy perspective. The lyrics Chance puts up on Acid Rap are a mixture of scattered and personal, “Wore my feelings on my sleeveless, my weed seedless, my tree’s leafless. I miss my diagonal grilled cheeses, and back when Mike Jackson was still Jesus (Acid Rain).” On the same song he says “Lately my verses seem not so versey.” Acid Rap is very conscious of how different it is, how new this is not only for Chance but for the listener who is used to the 16 than the hook.
After the first listen I remember thinking “I can’t believe I got this for free.” If you google reviews for Acid Rap you are entering a realm of overwhelming praise. This is a 19 year old rapper who shows enough skill on this mixtape alone to be considered a top tier lyricist. A lot of critics have made Kendrick Lamar comparisons and while Chance is the closest (outside of Ab-Soul) to master that fluid Bruce Lee flow, the differences are important. Kendrick wants to speak for a generation, Chance wants to speak for himself and make fun music. He doesn’t exist as an anti-trap or drill figurehead. He doesn’t just shout out Fat Trel and others on Acid Rap he tweets Waka Flocka lyrics cause he honestly likes them. As great as his previous mixtape 10day was it was full of experiments, some that worked some that didn’t. Everything here works. The reggae/sublime feeling NaNa produced by Brandun Deshay still feels like something Chance and Action Bronson can comfortable fit into. Most of the discussion about how different this project sounds should come down to Chance and his amorphous blob lyrics, while the beats carry off-sequence signatures it always feels like they exist that way for Chance rather than the other way around.
This mixtape is the art pick of the year; it’s lyrically impressive and good natured. In the same way that Killer Mike made a conscious play for the spotlight when he put out R.A.P. Music that’s what Chance did here. He got all the important guest features you’d want(guest verses are amazing, Twista kills Cocoa Butter Kisses and Noname Gypsy says “the only time he loves me is naked in my dreams” fantastic) and production from Jake One, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Blended Babies. Its an easy pick for mixtape of the year and the day it dropped I listened to Juice four times and sang it out loud in a public bathroom(I am that dude).
I don’t think it is the mixtape of the year, it never lets you relax. While everything Fiend lays down on Lil Ghetto Boy feels like a hook nothing on Acid Rap does. It requires a level of attentive listening that is admirable but limiting. It’s beautiful though and what I enjoy most about it is how honestly anti-violence it is. He talks about how unsafe Chicago is from all angles, the police, how easy it is to get a gun, and the summer bringing out the violence. Chance is never coming at you like the caged puppy commercial asking for your help, he’s just brave enough to admit that the violence scares him. He’s brave enough to talk about it on overwhelmingly sad songs like Pusha Man (which ends with him sharing that feeling of fear with the audience) and on social media/interviews. He knew exactly how good this tape was; the day after it dropped he was spelling his ad lib for new listeners. Make no mistake Acid Rap is his come up and if you’re not in on it now; get ready for his exposure to find you wherever you are.
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