Chance the Rapper is an artist barely out of his adolescence from Chicago. He famously started recording music during suspension from high school. He sounds like a combination of Kanye West’s barely-outsider perspective, Kendrick Lamar’s elastic flow and observation and Lil Wayne’s bravado and vocal ticks. Gospel, jazz, soul,reggae, golden age hip-hop, scat and more conventional drum machine beats all appear on this album to create a sound that instantly comes across as familiar and infectious.
Despite all of the audible influential artists and genres Chance the Rapper’s new mix tape “Acid Rap” is some of the most schizophrenically original music released this year. A few things immediately come across when listening to this mixtape. The first is that Chance is an incredibly self-aware rapper. He raps about generational divide and the harsh realities of living in Chicago’s South Side as naturally as he cuts a party track. The second is that Chance the Rapper is totally unafraid to leave the beaten path. He’ll attempt to croon in his warbling, cracking voice before launching into a double timed barrage of word play. The last thing that quickly becomes evident about Chance is that he loves his drugs. Ecstasy, acid, cigarettes, codeine, marijuana and Hennessy all get shout outs on this album, but the album never falls into the trap of being something as simple as a drug album.
Although Chance gives a shout out to another rapping Chicago wunderkind on this mix tape everything is sonically and topically broader than anything the drill scene could possibly produce. Also, although plenty of other Chicago-area artists appear on this album, notably BJ the Chicago Kid and Twista, the guest list also includes Childish Gambino, Ab-Soul and Action Bronson. The end result of the various unorthodox mixtures is an original, ambitious effort that effectively evokes introspection and humor.