July 26th 2019 – The Big Day… Chance the Rapper finally delivered his debut album, 3 years after the release of his first solo project, Coloring Book. The album features 22 tracks in total, with a few skits sprinkled in between. That’s why we’re going to be digesting this album in two parts. Lil Chano from the 79th tried to pull out all the stops with his debut album, enlisting a star-studded cast of uncredited guest artists and producers. The themes around the project are, for the most part, family-centric, revolving around marriage, monogamy, brotherhood, and infused with gospel and soul influences throughout. Let’s unpack this one, song by song. Roll your weed up, grab your drink, whatever your vice is – this is gonna be a long one.
The intro track on the album, “All Day Long”, features an uncredited John Legend on the hook, and contributions from frequent Chance collaborators, ‘The Social Experiment’ (Nico Segal aka Donnie Trumpet, Peter Cottontale, Nate Fox and Greg Landfair), as well as production from TrapMoneyBenny, who came to fame after producing “In My Feelings” by Drake. The instrumental is super fun and conducive to dancing. It’s hard to unpack everything going on, but it’s hard to miss the snare that shmacks every 3rd beat. Littered throughout is several catchy synth, piano, guitar and string melodies. Chance adopts a rapid-fire cadence in his opening verse and packs in a slew of quotable lines. My favorite, which comes in early – “Life is short as a midget but mine’s a little LeBron”. Yeah… This song’s a bop and I can’t find any flaws on my first listen through.
Next up is “Do You Remember”. This track features more contributions from The Social Experiment, as well as Bon Iver, Francis Starlite (of Francis and the Lights), and Death Cab for Cutie’s frontman, Benjamin Gibbard, who opens with the song’s chorus. The beat features some soulful “ahh-ahhs” echoing throughout, and spliced in after each verse is the sound of children cheering. The sound of a school bell ringing commences the first verse. There’s a lot of reminiscing on the good old days that we all inevitably outgrow. It’s definitely not as catchy as ‘Summer Friends’ off of his last project, like, I wouldn’t listen to this song on repeat. Nothing about it stands out, but it’s a solid reminder that we should cherish our youth while it lasts.
“Eternal” is the third track of the album, a soulful joint that tries to convince the listener that all the merits of your main man/chick outweigh the merits, or lack thereof of your side person, and features an uncredited verse from Smino, who reminds us that side chicks can’t cook no grits, among other things. This song is easy listening. It’s groovy. It’s laid back. It’s hard to find fault with this joint, and it’s easily one of my favorites from the album.
“Hot Shower” features uncredited guest verses from MadeinTYO and DaBaby, with more production from Chicago-based Smoko Ono. It’s your typical trap beat with rolling hi-hats, the same clap you hear in every song, and a basic 808 bassline. I don’t know what Chance was doing on this… the hook is wack, his verse is wack. DaBaby is the only one who stands out on this track. MadeinTYO didn’t really add anything worth talking about here. Hard pass on this joint.
Track five of the album is “We Go High", which features backing vocals from Thirdstory singer Ben Lusher. This song, similar to Eternal, is really laid back, and has some catchy synths laced sparsely throughout the beat. The beat also has a familiar sample of Navi from Ocarina of Time, for those Zelda nerds… There are a few references to WuTang (shoutout UGod) and God himself but, other than that, this song doesn’t stand out much either. This is standard Chance the Rapper Christian rap, praising God and asking for his guidance. If that’s not your cup of tea, I’d skip this one.
“I Got You (Always and Forever)” sounds like a throwback to 90’s R&B – maybe because it features En Vogue. The beat is very much inspired by that era. Ari Lennox also features on the song and TrapMoneyBenny returns to help on production. I don’t mind this song at all. I like it, but what seems to be a recurring theme this album is that it’s not really a BOP. You might hear this song in some barbecue playlists this summer but honestly, don’t count on it.
“Roo” comes after the first skit of the album, “Photo Ops” which features John Witherspoon aka Craig’s dad from Friday, which is the only reason it deserved a mention. This joint features Chance’s younger brother and rapper Taylor Bennett. The beat is alright. There’s a really nice synth melody echoing here and there throughout the song but other than that, the song overall doesn’t excite me much. It’s probably not supposed to. This song, like most of the album, feels personal, so it’s hard to knock it down, but I wanted some bangers and, so far, this ain’t it.
“The Big Day”. Here it is. It’s the name of the album too so it’s gotta be flames, right? Nah, that’s not the direction this song wanted to go in. Rarely do songs about your wedding day pan out that way. The song opens up with some crooning vocals from Bon Iver. It’s a pretty song, make no mistake. Slow and laid back like earlier joints. It’s just not something you’d have on repeat is all I’m saying. Unless you like this kinda shit. It’s all subjective in the end.
“Let’s Go On The Run” is one of the more upbeat songs of the album. I imagine this song would translate over really well into live performances. That’s the thought I had on the first listen through. Knox Fortune, who featured on “All Night” from the Coloring Book, makes a return here. The theme of this song is eloping with your boo. Romantic, sure, but is it catchy? Not necessarily. The last minute of the song switches the beat up, and leads us to the last song of this half of the review…
“Handsome” is one of the better songs on the album, with production from Smoko Ono and TrapMoneyBenny and a guest verse from Megan Thee Stallion. I like this song. Meg’s verse is dope, which, unfortunately, seems to be a recurring thing on this album up to the point. Chance’s guests shine brighter than him.
Alright, that wraps up the first part of this album review. If you’ve listened with me up to this point, you’re probably thinking the same thing. So far, this album is mediocre. Not exactly a feeling you want to have with someone’s debut album. Will Chance redeem himself in the second half? We’ll see, but I need a break before I digest the next part.