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We’ve seen it before, we’ll see it again. Something under-the-radar breaks through to the mainstream, and the rest of the industry back-peddles in attempt to see what they’ve been missing. When the so-called tastemakers of popular culture are late to the party on something, its usually followed by glowing reviews and affirmations of said product, because the last thing they want is to appear is out-of-touch. Or, the opposite is true, the bandwagon missers shun the product, simply because they were last to hear about it.

Case in point is Chicago’s Chance The Rapper, who in the last few weeks has earned 1) a spot each BET, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and NPR’s best albums of the year list, 2) the cover of The Source magazine, and 3) a high profile guest feature on Justin Bieber’s “Confident”. This, all coming after the release of Acid Rap, back in the Spring of 2013, which caught a runaway buzz after receiving 50,000 downloads overnight, coupled with Chance’s tour alongside Childish Gambino. Quite an impressive resume. So is Chance The Rapper the next great emcee, or just another manufactured rapstar?

Chance has always been on our radar, but with so much content coming out each day, we don’t get to give everything a review, and there’s just not time to peep every mixtape that comes down the pipeline. So, when a buzz like this is in the air, it is necessary for us to see what the fuss is about, even if the product is a few months old. So, we’ve given Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap a good few weeks in rotation, going through the album roughly five to seven times in full, to really let it sink in. Chance has accompanied this critic on several whips around town in the car stereo, plenty of hour long workouts in the iPhone, and played loud in the house off the PS3. That being said, we have come to a solid conclusion regarding Chance The Rapper and his mixtape, Acid Rap.

This shit is wack.

The best way to explain Chance The Rapper’s style is exactly how one intrepid IGN message board commenter put it, who described him as a combination between South Park’s Cartman and Wyclef Jean. Our first impression was that he sounded like Fatlip of The Pharcyde, but the Cartman/’Clef comparison really hits the nail on the head. Yes, Chance raps in sort of this raspy “baby talk” voice. He also has a pair of go-to adlibs, which make him easy to pick out on any track. The first is a sort of “squawking gasp”, which can be annoying at times. The second is worse by far; him singing along to the beats on just about every song with a high-pitched “nyeh-nyeh-nyeh-nyeh-nyeh-nyeh”, and yes, its done in the down syndrome baby voice.

For all intents and purposes, we’ve always had rappers that would experiment with their vocal chords, such as the Ol’ Dirty Bastard in the past, and Old Danny Brown in the present. Even they are an acquired taste that took getting warmed up to, the former with many classic records under his belt. But in the case of Chance The Rapper, its hard to imagine a scenario where “nyeh-nyeh-boo-boo” adlibs are going to sound good, or that we’re going to sing along with him, like we might to “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”.

So beyond the annoying voice, repetitive adlibs, and stunted delivery, what is it about Chance that people actually dig? Please. Someone present us with a compelling argument. Musically, he does have a few good moments here. Tracks like “Good Ass Intro” and “Cocoa Butter Kisses”, the latter by far the album’s best track, are a nice change of pace from the detrimental-to-society music that is currently coming out of Chicago. Chance’s gospel-tinged, juke-influenced sound is clearly more influenced by Kanye West than it is by Chief Keef, so that’s a positive. But is this the second coming of Common? Not even close.

For all the acclaim Chance is receiving, we expect more than just rehashing of classic samples like Slum Village’s “Look Of Love” (“Everybody’s Something”), A Tribe Called Quest’s “Sucka N***a” (“NaNa”), and others we’ve heard countless times before. That last one is saved by a verse from Action Bronson, and then subsequently ruined again by both of them beating the adlibs to death.

Its not the voice, its not the halfway decent production, it must certainly be the lyrics that has everyone clamoring over Chance The Rapper, right? How about this one from the aforementioned “Everybody’s Something”: “I know somebody, somebody loves my ass / Cause they help me beat my demon’s ass”. Off beat and doesn’t rhyme. This is just one of the many instances.

At the end of the day, Chance The Rapper is ultimately a case of one too many yes men trying to catch the hype train, and agreeing with one another because they are so far out of touch. After multiple listens of Acid Rap, inside and out, and being a 25+ year scholar of hip-hop music, we fail to see the appeal of Chance The Rapper on any level. How or why this should rise above many other stellar releases of 2013 (Run The Jewels, J-Zone, Pusha T, to name a few) is completely beyond us.

Lay off the Acid, everyone.

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18 Responses to "Chance The Rapper – “Acid Rap” – @@1/2 (Review)"
  • The Man The myth says:

    I am with most of you here. I downloaded this garbage because of all the hype. I made it half way through the album and deleted this off the computer. Just not my cup of tea, wack beats, wack raps, meh.

  • Mark says:

    I usually agree with you guys, but I have to respectfully say you’re full of shit here. There is a joy and spontaneity that comes through in the music, something that translates well to his live shows, where kids do sing along to the Nyee Nyee. I’m not some young un either. I’m a full grown 30 year old man that got his Hip Hop chops with the LA Scene from Dialted Peoples, to Planet Asia, to Dynospectrum, to King Tee, to… and the Soul Quarians crew… Chance has alot to learn… he’s not the most technically sound, or the most compelling lyricist yet, but he made a good listen. An album that may not deserve the wild hype, but definetly is fun, boisterous, and a top listen of the year

  • preston90035 says:

    haha. Dude nailed this review. Those fucking adlibs are terrible.

  • Da Roundeye says:

    Everybody has opinions and I respect that but this review was seriously lacking.

    1. Why put out a late review because it flew under your radar? You guys don’t review half the shit I listen to yet you feel the need to review an album that others are holding in high regard in year end lists. Just don’t review it because you missed it or didn’t want to invest the time because you thought it sucked hard. I thought that’s what this site was about, reviewing albums that appeal to you.

    2. Why tell me how much time you’ve invested in listening to it? Are you making up for it because the review is so late? I really don’t give two shits how often you listened to it. Get to the point of reviewing the music.

    3. You proposed the question, “So is Chance The Rapper the next great emcee, or just another manufactured rapstar?” From the review you obviously don’t think he’s great. I agree to that as well. But where did the second part of the question go? The review should be based off his merits at the time of the release not because he recently did a guest spot for Justin Bieber or he’s on year end lists. Would you review a pre 2010 Ludacris album right now and knock him because he was on Bieber’s Baby?

    4 (and most importantly). You don’t need to validate your opinion by stating how long you’ve listened to hip hop. This is an established website so the need for this type of middle school douchery is beyond me. At some point wasn’t the tagline to this website, “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s about where you’re at.”

    Also find something more tasteful when describing his voice other than using a down syndrome baby. If you been in the game this long and consider yourself a scholar then I expect better.

  • Eazy says:

    This review is on some Armond White shit. I am only with you in the sense that his Bobcat Goldthwait-esque adlibs and squawks are obnoxious, and he should really tone them down in the future. Otherwise, you are totally trolling here.
    I feel like you must have gone out of your way to scan this entire album to find the only weak line to highlight in your review. Seriously, he is not an insane lyrical acrobat, but he has TONS of quotables and he packs so many rhymes and so much realness into every line. The guy exhibits tons of different flows on this album, and shows he can pull them all off with flare, style, personality, and endless charisma.
    Chance takes the sing-rapping style of people like Kid Cudi (who is a far weaker rapper than Chance), and makes it completely his own. Chance has the improvisational melodic chops of a Jazz musician, and makes really interesting choices with his delivery. His songs are catchy, personal, and they have wide appeal. He manages to be kind of an activist rapper without being preachy whatsoever.
    Seriously, this album may not be a classic, and has its missteps (his adlibs, especially), but he is one of the key new artists on the scene that is pushing the art forward and paving a path completely his own. I sound like kind of a Chance stan right now, and trust me, I’m not, but I felt up to your challenge to explain his appeal, and I think your review is a bit of an insult.

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