There was a time when Chance The Rapper was a bit of a joke. An overnight sensation for sure but something of an odd amusement; an act that would burn brightly for the length of an over-hyped mixtape and then explode under the pressure of its own energy. That mixtape was ‘Acid Rap‘ and it might have represented a point of inflection. Until that point the Chicago high school kid had a funny delivery and some good lines but there wasn’t much more there than that. ‘Acid Rap’ was so positively received because it so clearly announced that Chance was not fucking around. By comparison to the most recent Drake mixtape-cum-album ‘If You’re Reading This…’, ‘Acid Rap’ was infinitely more assured, cohesive and interesting. With it, the notion that Chance was a flash in the pan was dismissed. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find many who assumed at the time that he’d still be here, producing music this good, all these years later.
‘All Night’ was not just my early favorite off Chance’s most recent mixtape ‘Coloring Book’ – synced in a mad rush as I taxied away from cell service in Atlanta – it might be my early favorite song of the year. ‘Coloring Book’, like ‘Acid Rap’ before it, has this overwhelming sense of energy pulsing through it and builds on that earlier effort by displaying the rapper’s diversity of sound and theme. Among a bevy of great songs (all killer, no filler), ‘All Night’ captured my attention immediately with its opening Chicago house-influenced coda and its demonstration of Chance’s casual brilliance; by turns Rihanna-lazy with his annunciation and arresting in his vocal performance (‘cashhh money!’) There could be no better, more effervescent counterpoint to his guest feature on Snakehips and Tinashe’s ‘All My Friends‘.
Moreover, as a treatise on what it is to be young and fun and drunk, there are few more spot-on expressions than this. It is this Everyman quality that continues to render Chance such a lovable hip-hop character. On a mixtape punctuated by jabs at labels who want to box him in, Chance makes clear with ‘All Night’ that despite being courted by A&R the world over, at heart he is still the same kid whose suspension from high school gave rise to his first acclaimed tape, ’10 Days’. Along with a lyrical honesty that accompanies this strong sense of self, Chance’s music is as good as it is because it channels the raw enthusiasm he maintains for his craft. There are no label expectations, merchandise decisions or talk-show appearances weighing on ‘Coloring Book’. Instead, true to its name, it is infantile in its exuberance but incredibly mature in its ambition and vision.
Chance The Rapper – All Night ft. Knox Fortune