There wasn’t an underground rapper hotter than Chance the Rapper in the past couple of years. I mean, besides all these Drakes and Kendricks and whatnots that you might hear on the radio. In my indie world, he was the man. Acid Rap is a great album (even making my top albums of 2013 list) and established Chance as a rising star. And then he basically follows up that album with this one, but somehow manages to leave his name off the cover. Why dilute a brand right out of the gate? Especially with one so long and almost impossible to remember? Who knows why rappers do what they do?
The only reason I can discern is that he wants to differentiate this work — which in and of itself is pretty cool — from his more straight-ahead hip-hop persona? I mean this is his positivity and, frankly, pretty hippyish album that wouldn’t be out of place as the modern follow-up to Digable Planet’s Blow Out Comb. The thing is all jazz on one side, sunny island summer days on the other. It’s an amazingly “I’m ok with myself” empowerment album. Let your dork flag fly!
At first I was thrown by all of this jazzy sunshine, but after finding myself proactively playing this thing from front to back on multiple occasions, I realized that the old mode of hip-hop that celebrated life had fallen by the wayside in the wake of rap’s grunge phase. But the combo of Chance and the head of the Social Experiment, Nico Segal, a couple of Chicago kids, bring the brightness and the tossed-off fun of a party album that also happens to be art. The album is a free download on iTunes, so just go do it. You can thank me later.