Chicago’s favorite rapper is back. Chance the Rapper’s debut album “The Big Day,” released on July 26, 2019, follows his critically acclaimed and popularly embraced mixtapes “Coloring Book” (2016) and “Acid Rap” (2013). In the past few years, Chance the Rapper collaborated with some of the biggest names in rap music today and became a household name in Chicago for his musical prowess and community activism. His first official album is no small feat at 22 tracks, many of them focused on how his life has changed since his last mixtape, notably his marriage to Kirsten Corely, the mother of his three year old daughter. Chance the Rapper won’t be making his way out of the spotlight anytime soon, but he will be making his way to Wisconsin in the fall, on October 30 at the Fiserv Forum.
I listened to the entire hour and 20 minutes of “The Big Day,” and boiled it down to 22 sentences, plus my favorite pull quote from each song.
All Day Long (featt. John Legend)
“Hey, we made it, we made it / I’m feelin’ grateful”
This song is what an opener should be, a reminder of Chance’s brand of enthusiastic, gospel inspired rap and a preview of the album’s main topic: how awesome Chance the Rapper’s life is now.
Do You Remember (feaet. Death Cab for Cutie)
Chance cashes in on our late-summer nostalgia with this slow burner built from an atmospheric background track and simple piano accompaniment.
Eternal (feat. Smino)
“You send him to the store and forget that he left / You send me to the store, I come back with a chef”
A smooth R&B sound, scorching lyrics, Smino’s casual delivery and an actual chorus on the chorus, what could be better?
Hot Shower (feat. Made in TYO, DaBaby)
“Tangerine, yeah, I call her sweet and sour / And my lawyer say it’s urgent, I’ma call him in an hour”
Sparse, trappy beats underlie simple repetition in this song, which could only be a product of summer 2019 and can only be called what it is: a banger.
We Go High
“We Go High” includes some of my favorite things, including tender poetry, melodic rap, contemplative piano, distorted vocals and a Michelle Obama reference.
I Got You (feat. Ari Lennox, En Vogue and Kierra Sheard)
I’m not going to lie, this love song sounds like a bonus track for the musical “Hamilton.”
Photo Ops (Skit)
A skit about a photo op.
“It’s a lot more crammed in the house / Back when Chance was the man of the house”
Electronic and dissonant, this track encompasses a much darker feel than the rest of the album, complete with references to Jordan Peele’s thriller, “Us.”
The Big Day (feat. Francis and the Lights)
“But the only way to survive is to go crazy”
The story of Chance’s wedding day comes to life in this dichotomous song whose sound is heavily influenced by Francis and the Lights.
Let’s Go On the Run (feat. Knox Fortune)
Knox Fortune is the redeeming force on “Let’s Go On the Run,” a sweet love song with less-than creative lyrics.
Handsome (feat. Megan Thee Stallion)
“Baby, I look good, I look handsome”
A Chance the Rapper hype track featuring a great collaboration and bare bones beats that are simple but never boring.
Big Fish (feat. Gucci Mane)
Chance swears his story of success is so unbelievable it is reminiscent of Big Fish, and what is actually unbelievable is that there are 10 more songs after this one on his album.
Ballin Flossin (feat. Shawn Mendes)
“I got big dreams, super big eyes / Retro ride, Marty McFly”
“Ballin Flossin” proves itself to be an upbeat dance track from the top, undeniably fun and a bit too poppy for my taste.
4 Quarters in the Back (Skit)
A wedding toast to Chance and his new bride.
5 Year Plan (feat. Randy Newman)
“You deserve a plaque and a pat on the back / I see y’all in your Seuss like the Cat in the Hat”
I hope you have your Sunday shoes on because Chance takes you to church on this piece which is more sermon than song.
Get a Bag (feat. Calboy)
“You want a bag, you get a bag”
Pitched up samples of James Taylor’s 1985 song “Only One” create a sunny foundation for Chance’s raps on this uncomplicated, enjoyable bop.
Slide Around (feat. Nicki Minaj & Lil Durk)
“Loco, I go loco, took a oath, though / No Grammy, still a goat, though”
Chance is rich and gets to do lots of things (made better by Nicki Minaj and decidedly less classy by Lil Durk)!
Sun Come Down
“Leavin’ more thoughts than there are bristles on a brush broom”
Chance pens his own obituary, complete with chilly, heady instrumentals and sung with an emotionally open voice.
“I ain’t single no more”
Another song about Chance’s wedding, and this time one that would sound at home on a wedding dance floor.
Town on the Hill
“They built a town on top of a hill / It was yellow in hue, ’cause it was bursting with light”
“Town on the Hill” is a song of thanks, and throughout it Chance’s voice is on the edge of breaking as he sings earnestly over music that clearly bears Francis and the Light’s touch.
Our House (Skit)
Someone is taking a phone call and making loud observations at Chance’s wedding.
Zanies and Fools (feat. Nicki Minaj and Darius Scott)
“For every small increment liberated, our women waited” The slow opening to this final track gives way to Chance’s lighting fast rapping, paired with percussion and a repetitive chorus of voices that give me more than a few Lion King vibes.