Chance the Rapper, “Acid Rap” ★★★½
One of the most difficult feats in hip-hop is the ability to create a fully cohesive project. Rising Chicago artist Chance the Rapper did that on his debut, “10 Day.” With “Acid Rap,” his follow-up mixtape, he proves it was no fluke as his latest adds to the composite picture of Chance as an artist and a person.
“Acid Rap” picks up where his debut left off, as the lead track, “Good Ass Intro,” starts off with a familiar blend of soul-and-juke aesthetics that have become Chance’s calling card. The track also is completely Chicago, with production from his go-to team of Peter CottonTale and Stefan Ponce blending with the sultry sounds of Lili K and Kiara Lanier and vocals by BJ the Chicago Kid. With horns, thoughtful lyrics and a throbbing bass, it’s obvious why Pitchfork Media recently named it as a “Best New Track.”
Other standouts are “Cocoa Butter Kisses” with Vic Mensa of Kids These Days and produced by CottonTale & Cam Osteen, and the title track, “Acid Rain,” produced by Jake One.
“Cocoa Butter Kisses” slows things down, with CottonTale’s instrumental production setting the stage for Chance and Mensa’s love of tobacco. As Chance, who often is pictured with a cigarette dangling from his lips, raps on the intro, it’s difficult to know if he even manages to take a breath. Mensa, a longtime friend and a fellow Save Money member, also provides a preview of his “Innanet Tape,” due in June.
Chance also gets introspective, commenting on his relationship with Mensa (“I still get jealous Vic/And Vic still jealous of me”), carrying the torch for Chicago (“Took the team up off my back, like that’s not your jersey”) and his drug use (“I trip to make the fall shorter.”).
“Chance paints a picture with his songwriting,” said CottonTale in an interview with the Sun-Times. “It’s very personal and relatable at the same time.”
“Acid Rap” could well be the biggest hip-hop release to come out of the city since Kanye West’s “College Dropout.” Fortunately, it lacks any semblance of West’s attitude or cockiness.