When Chance the Rapper introduces himself by chanting “we back, we back,” on the first song of his new mixtape, Acid Rap, thoughts of Lil Wayne spring to mind as he croaks his joy about being behind the microphone. Then, when he starts actually rapping, and his flow conjures up images of Danny Brown and his aggressive and potentially off-putting voice.
It was as if Chance was created in a lab to be a polarizing drug-addict: a spitting image of what a love child between Wayne and Brown would look like. However, Acid Rap effectively teaches us two things: one, if Chance is to be compared to anybody, it should be to Kendrick Lamar, for some of the content in his raps, and to Ol’ Dirt Bastard, for sing-rap style, easily transitioning in the middle of a bar. It also teaches us that Chance has a distinct voice, and is overall a damn good rapper.
Whether it’s alternating between singing and rapping, or the pace at which he raps, Chance engages you by making you pay attention to catch all of the witty lines he’ll drop in a verse. ‘Good Ass Intro’ is a perfect example. He eases his way on to the beginning of the song before blitzing the track with line after line: “Make a joke about Leno’s hair then piggy back on Fallon’s spleen, / Balancing on sporadicity and fucking pure joy, / Nightly searches for a bed and I just came off tour with Troy.”
The subject matter in Acid Rap, like Chances’ style of rapping, is also very diverse. He makes mentions of his past about being suspended from his high school, but he’s able to flip that by using his current success as vindication for who he is. This is present in ‘Chain Smoker’ where, despite all of his admitted vices, he shows he’s satisfied with who he is overall as a person. It’s also present in both the mixtape’s intro and outro. The album begins with a voice singing: “Even better than I was the last time baby,” and ends with the same woman lightly singing, “I’m good.” Chance the Rapper is cognizant of his shortcomings, and even through the murder of a close friend and struggles in school, he remains a very positive person, and an enjoyable personality.
To see the positive effects of Chance’s outlook and personality, all you have to do is listen to the guests on the album. Everyone feels at ease and everyone attempts to bring their best. Twista doesn’t let his well-known lightning-paced flow overtake his effort, which translates into a very solid verse. Childish Gambino may be a much better actor than rapper, but he has a good connection with Chance, and succeeds on charisma and entertaining the audience with his apparent joy at what he’s doing. Ab-soul and Action Bronson, in the two most bizarre songs on the mixture, which become more acceptable with each listen, even go so far as to employ Chance’s sing-rap delivery during a few bars in their respective verses. Everyone’s into the record, and like a good supporting cast to Chance’s star performance, they help to elevate Acid Rap.
What’s really interesting about Chance on Acid Rap, though, is how he’s so unique as a rapper, yet how he also unwillingly draws parallels between himself and Kendrick Lamar. Chance is certainly more bizarre than Lamar in his delivery, and he’s more joyous than aggressive, but some of their content is eerily similar. ‘Pusha Man/Paranoid’ can be likened to a less personal version of Lamar’s ‘Sing About Me/Dying of Thirst’. Both really focus on inner city violence, and both have mentions of close friends that were murdered. The most imminent similarity between the two, however, is the presence of their parents. Chance’s mom is mentioned in ‘Cocoa Butter Kisses’ as Chance focuses on the nostalgia of his childhood, but it’s the voce recording of a conversation between him and his dad at the beginning of ‘Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)’ that is the most striking.
Chance thanks his dad for all of his support, while his dad replies by saying it’s what he’s supposed to do as a parent, and states how proud he is of his son. It’s strongly reminiscent of Kendrick’s parents in Good Kid M.a.a.d. City, and is made all the more moving considering all of the vices Chance openly admits to in Acid Rap. It just shows how important family support is, and how it can help men like Chance the Rapper elevate to greatness.