Is the Big Day a broken record?
Chance the Rapper dropped his debut album on July 26th and it’s good. It’s shows lots of growth and maturity, but also has a few call backs to both 10 Day and Acid Rap.
Before I talk about the album, I just want to touch on the discussion about Chance calling this album his “debut album.” People had a problem with this because of the changes in the music industry with the birth of streaming. Since Coloring Book was allowed to be nominated for Grammy’s and has been on streaming services for years and Acid Rap was the project that really put him on, they don’’t this new project should be considered a debut anything. Coloring Book is a mix-tape that had an album roll-out. The production, the features, the subsequent tour, these were typical of an album and the fact that they happened on the coattails of a mix-tape, is impressive and indicative of the power of streaming, but the project was free for consumption. So it was a mix-tape. The Big Day is the first project that Chance has ever charged for. I understand the backlash (if you can even call it that), but at the same time I don’t. The only reason I can see this causing an issue is because of “debut album” accolades that Chance may receive, but more and more we’re seeing how little music industry accolades really mean especially in rap. It took protesting and petitioning for rap to even be considered for the Grammy’s and we’ve already decided that the Grammy’s are a shitty indicator of artistry when it comes to rap. Many other awards were never taken seriously to begin with and many of those that were have essentially become a popularity contest.
Technically, this is Chance’s debut album I understand people’s reservations about calling it that, but it is what it is.
Great. Moving on.
I really liked this album, but that doesn’t mean that it was good.
The overall theme of this album is maturity. Chance has matured past experimenting with drugs and parlaying with different women. He quit smoking, he’s committed to his wife and they’re expecting their second baby very soon. All of this is great and since Chance is often such a “look on the bright side” kind of guy, it’s not surprising that we see this rollover into his music. However, he does remind me a bit of Logic in that he’s beating a dead horse by talking about his marriage on absolutely every track without changing the perspective or lens at all. Logic has done this multiple times with talking about the fact that he’s biracial. I love when artists show growth, that’s often the point of a new release, but there is only so long that an audience can listen to the same message.
Speaking of so long: this album is so long. Concise releases where every track is strong, where every track has high replay value, where tracks are not likely to be skipped are much more powerful than projects that have filler tracks. I like that Chance used skits, I think skits are dying out in rap a bit, but even if you took the skits out, the album would be too long.
On tracks like “Big Fish” and “Roo” Chance really shows us that he’s a rapper at the end of the day. If he wants to give us punchlines he can. But other tracks like “Hot Shower” are just unplayable to me. I really enjoyed some of the features on the album, mainly En Vogue, Taylor Bennett, Gucci Mane and Megan Thee Stallion, but at the same time, I think that it’s a bit over crowded. I listened to the album for the first time on Spotify, so I didn’t know that there were features until the voice changed.
The biggest reservation that I have about this album is that none of the songs really made me introspective like track son Chance’s previous projects, which makes me wonder how deep he really dug for some of the concepts. There was no “Finish Line/Drown” or “Paranoia,” there was nothing to make me really think on this album.
The reason that I really liked this album was because it was so fun to listen to. As a fan, I was happy to see that the project finally dropped and I was giddy listening to it and that in itself gives the project value. But in terms of unbiased, formal music criticism, I don’t think the project is well-rounded. Since it’s a “debut” project, I would think that he wanted to really show just how much he can do well, but it didn’t come across that way to me.