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Since dropping Acid Rap in late April as the follow up to 2012′s 10 Day, Chance The Rapper has quickly turned much of the city’s youth into unapologetic junkies.

The squirrely nanas and schizophrenic flow have taken the city and the national underground hip-hop scene by storm over the past year, and Friday at Lollapalooza set the perfect stage for Chance’s tie-dyed Acid raps to shine. First off, I’ll admit I’m an avid user. Having followed Chance for most of the past year and for days at a time at SXSW in Austin, I felt more than prepared as I rode in the car to a noon rehearsal at The Music Garage on the near West Side with “Good Ass Intro” producer Peter CottonTale.

Chance arrived soon after we did. Dressed casually in grey pants cuffed around the ankles and a grey baseball t-shirt with Leaders emblazoned in pink across his chest, he dove into a quick once over of the album, played with a live band made up of former Kids These Days members Macie Stewart and Greg “Stix” Landfair alongside CottonTale. Between bites of McDonald’s Chance sputtered over the quick-footed rhymes and crooned the nasal chorus of “Chain Smoker” as his brother Taylor Bennett, fellow artist NoNameGypsy, and others looked on.

The rehearsal came to an end just over two hours after it began  when Chance mentioned a hidden plan to crowd surf through the crowd in an inflatable raft at the end of his set. “I’m gonna grab an oar and get all the way to the back of that bitch.”

From there, it was off to Lollapalooza where Chano, the rest of Save Money, and seemingly everyone under 25 in Chicago seemed to congregate at the cramped BMI stage for their hometown kid’s first performance at the storied festival. Running late, I found my way to the left side of the stage and wedged myself between two high school kids in lacrosse jerseys.

Chance’s frenetic footwork paced a live set that was chock-full of appropriate moments. As he performed “Cocoa Butter Kisses” alongside Vic Mensa and Twista, fans smoked cigarettes and as Chance did “Paranoia,” the crowd airily reflected on the violence their city has endured. During “Smoke Again” the crowd, well, smoked again.Sure enough, Chance created one of the more memorable moments of the weekend when, after “Chain Smoker” he let the rest of the crowd in on the plan we had heard about earlier-he had a raft and he was getting to the back of the crowd.

Photo by Roger Tino Morales
Photo by Roger Tino Morales

As Macie, Greg and Peter jammed to “Everything’s Good” Chance climbed into a green converted kiddy-pool and waded into the waiting arms of his legion of open armed Acid addicts who, true to form, quickly stole the pool out from under him. Lifting him above their heads, Chance lay on his back with arms and legs outstretched as legions of fans lurched forward to get a brief interaction with the budding star. Eventually passing him back up to the stage, he finished his set minutes later by performing “Fuck You Tahm Bout” to an abbreviated but loyal group of fans who hadn’t hurried off.

Following the raucous set at Lollapalooza, the party moved south to State and 21st where Chance was hosting what was rumored as the quickest after show to sell out on Friday this year. BJ The Chicago Kid, Kembe X, and Alex Wiley warmed up the young crowd packed onto the cement floor of Reggie’s Rock House. I peered through the chain link fence from my perch adjacent to the stage and nursed a pair of knees sore from a day of following the Acid Rap train from one location to the next throughout the city.

The set was a wholly hometown affair as Chance had little to do but cue the song from DJ Oreo before the crowd took over rapping and singing every word alongside him. Joined again by the band of CottonTale, Stewart and Landfair Chance was at his best, at once sending the crowd into a frenzy and pulling them back to reality with his tremendous stage presence and increasingly crafty lyricism.

The set ended rather suddenly around two in the morning and no one could blame Chano for being a bit tired. I could hardly drag myself home to go to sleep and had only been watching all day, feeling woozy from an onslaught of the psychedelic flows. If Chance’s day at Lollapalooza was any sign, it’s clear Acid Rap has taken over the city. It’s only a matter of how much bigger it will get.

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