Tosten Burks looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the plug-in Hummer.
When you listen to new music every day, it’s easy to be cynical. You’re looking for music to prove itself to you. This is what breeds the sexploitation of cynical music. What critics love the most is counter-traditionalism. Rebellion. The “new.”
But then there’s music with no agenda. Music that’s not responding to anything. Not interacting amidst a blog cycle. Music that’s just living and reacting.
Acid Rap is a great album. (There’s no such thing as a mixtape anymore.) It’s not great for its innovative spin on a genre, or its subversive production, or its ambitious scale. It’s not really a matter of ambition at all. This is a fantastic composition of realism. An exaltation of optimism amidst fear that seeks to do nothing more than do just that – exalt.
Which, if you don’t get why this is fascinating, you’ve missed the whole point of drill rap. You’ve been listening to “Love Sosa” without any understanding of the gravity of the words “Fuckin with them O Boys/You gon’ get fucked over.” The reason Acid Rap is so beautiful is because it’s the rose that grew from concrete.
Chance has put out an album of music that doesn’t try to prove anything. It has no agenda. It’s basically hymnal. A composition that proclaims “That’s love/I love you” over and over and over again as an interlude. Celebration and jubilee.
Which okay, ya, that’s fine and dandy. But is the music good? I could submit so many lines here to advocate for Chance’s Messi linguistics, but I’ll choose one from NaNa: “Fart and get bitch-slapped/Like bourbon mixed with jack/lickety-split/lickety-slipped on a shell, from peelin’ banana split backs/give me my Kit-Kat.”
If you didn’t notice, that was mostly nonsense. Breathtaking verbal exercise for the fun of it. The key phrase is “for the fun of it.” There’s a reason Action Bronson sounds so amused on the back of the same song. The central appeal here is that you can’t not smile.
Chance has put viral Chicago – including some of his best friends – on his back, legitimized it to everyone, through sheer irresistibility. You can’t help but enjoy the BJ the Chicago Kid flourishes. Or the squealing ad-libs. Or the gracious Nico Segal trumpet lines.
And then there’s a song like “Pusha Man.” Or now are supposed to say “Paranoia feat. Nosaj Thing?” Because the back end is where things get serious.
The back end is where we see the perpetually bright Chance come close to breaking. Spitting that “Down here it’s easier to find a gun that it is to find a fucking parking spot.” Juxtaposing bluesy, jazzy, bouncy summer anthems like “Good Ass Intro,” “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” and “Favorite Song” with “I hope that it storm in the morning/I hope that it’s pouring out,” in a post-Kendrick triumph that, frankly, goes far past “Cloud 9.”
The sun is scary. The kids hit the streets. Spring is a conflict of interest. Transitioning from the bitter cold to… We avoid the thought with songs like “NaNa” and “Juice.”
So those of us with less worries can celebrate alongside the Rapper. Everybody’s somebody’s everything. Nobody’s nothing. Naaah naaah. If anything, revel in the existence of the line, “She had the cleft palate/I ordered chef’s salad.”
ZIP: Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap (Left-Click)