Chance the Rapper's The Big Day.
Even if rap and hip hop isn’t your forte, Chance the Rapper’s newest album, The Big Day, released July 26, is for you. Chance has gained such popularity and following partially due to his ability to transcend boundaries of musical genres. He does not fit neatly a traditional rap or hip-hop mold. The Big Day has even more of the diversity that makes Chance broadly appealing. The songs feature artists who pepper flavours of their own styles throughout the album, taking the record beyond what is expected of modern rap.
From the first song, “All Day Long,” I was entranced by the balance between Chance’s tasteful rapped verses and almost choir-like hooks led by John Legend. Put simply, the track is a bop. Smooth beats accompanied by even smoother lines fill an album stuffed with high-profile cameos—though none are directly acknowledged in the credits. A feature from Ben Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie on “Do You Remember” presents the listener with a sorely missed indie/hip-hop crossover that hasn’t been popularly appreciated since the early 2010s. Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver, has production and lyric credits for the song, too, adding another indie influence to the mix. The diversity of the album is impressive through every track. “I Got You (Always and Forever)” has a 90’s vibe to it, with a backtrack that could belong to the Backstreet Boys, a rap style reminiscent of the beginning of the genre, and a hook, led by featured artist Ari Lennox, that could be mistaken for a Destiny Child’s song.
As the album progresses, it departs from the first half’s easier listening. The songs feature other rappers such as Gucci Mane, CalBag, and Nikki Minaj. I don’t see this shift as a bad thing. These features continue to make the tracks interesting, now directing Chance to more traditional hip-hop territory instead of the earlier crossover pop sound. Here, Chance sticks to his hip-hop roots, providing plenty of space for guest verses throughout the project.
The album is also speckled with skits of spoken word featuring speakers John Witherspoon, Keith David, and Colleen Mares. In “Photo Ops (Skit)” Witherspoon describes a polaroid picture gone wrong before telling off the fighting brothers that ruined it. “4 Quarters in the Black (Skit)” features David making a toast to a successful “young man;” the toast turns when the speaker and the crowd begin telling the young man what he still needs: a car, savings, health insurance, Jesus, and a wife to name a few. “Our House (Skit)” plays out a chat at a wedding between a woman and a young girl, who describes her toys and divorced parents. The skits add emphasis on the theme of marriage that is threaded throughout the album, culminating in the title track, "The Big Day."
For those new to the artist, The Big Day is a perfect introduction to Chance the Rapper. The studio debut contains strong hooks that catch a general audience’s attention, and Chance’s rap flow that helped established his massive fan-base. The features diversify the tracks, the guest artists adding their own flares alongside Chance’s reliably vibrant energy. The record satisfies the desire for comfort and predictability in one’s favorite artist, but challenges listeners to take a step further and expand upon what they know and expect of the famed rapper.
The Big Day is now available wherever you stream your music.
Photo Credit: Chance the Rapper