When Chicago’s Metro theater starts chanting in unison, “We want Chance,” the hometown hero is just as awed as we are. But you can see it in his eyes; he was ready for this moment.
At only 20 years old, Chance the Rapper is as brave as his name suggests. His first introduction to many fans was the “Juice” video in January 2013, featuring ragtime piano underneath the rapper’s distinctly playful, nasally vocal style. Though I put the song on my iPod right away, I had the wrong idea about Chance at first. I thought his characteristically jumpy sound was the product of an older rapper desperately trying new things. But I’m the fool. He was preparing us for the invasion.
While the underground adjusted to “Juice,” Chance sent the mothership. He dropped the Acid Rap mixtape in late April and “Paranoia” was the exotic ambassador.
Released in collaboration with LA producer Nosaj Thing, “Paranoia” is a beefed up version of Acid Rap‘s “Pusha Man.” The opening daze of the track above had me hooked like a new hallucinogen. I looped the intro over and over, and before I knew it, I was caught in the Chicago kid’s tractor beams.
But there’s nothing to fear from Chance. Like he says in the song,
“I know you scared. Me too.”
At some point, live rap shows became shout shows. Many rappers use performance as an opportunity to put all 90 members of their crew onstage while ten of them shout intimidating backup lyrics at the audience.
Chance’s approach is more inviting than that. In the middle of the show, he gracefully invites a few musician friends onstage and the ambience instantly becomes more intimate. That warmth is reflected in his lyrics, too, and every verse of Acid Rap is wrapped in a magnetic sensory overload.
Despite his obvious appreciation for his fans, everything about the Acid Rap mixtape is aimed aggressively at the rap game. From its acid dropping inception to its sheer alien sound, the Chicago prodigy proves that fortune favors the bold. Make no mistake, Chance the Rapper is using his inviting aura to conquer us. Like he says to his band in the video below,
A film by Austin Vesely