Chance The Rapper isn’t the easiest rapper to rate on aesthetics alone. He’s a do-gooder whose gentlemanly conduct has a polarizing effect on his audience. In the modern sense of streaming conventions, albums no longer delineate a physical boundary like they used to. On The Big Day, Chance The Rapper finds him broadening his output in length, to varying results. The ever-humble Kanye West once referred to his drum kits as the “Achilles heel” of his production suite. That hasn’t stopped Chance The Rapper from trying to recreate the lithy bounce of an early Yeezy record whenever, wherever possible. The Big Day is no exception.
The Big Day achieves the verisimilitude of his previous works – placing Chance on a well-adjusted performance meter. The mere mention of Megan Thee Stallion is tantalizing to the senses. Her inclusion impels Chance to offer her a starting berth. A chameleon-like character, Chance will go to any length hospitable, even if it means speaking out of turn and NEVER skipping on a meal. Hot Girl Meg most certainly appreciated the gratuity paid to her on “Handsome.” The same can be said for Gucci Mane on the very next track “Big Fish.” Hell, even Nicki Minaj is given concluding rites on “Zanies and Fools.” Had it not been for Chance’s open-door policy, would the Barbs know where to search for the next pregnancy rumor? “Hot Shower” is the rare occasion where Chance forces himself to abandon his overreliance on emotionally-tinged heartstring arrangements. DaBaby proclaims himself “everyone’s cousin,” Chance lives within his means on the track, and MadeinTYO tags along, providing an echo chamber of adlibs at every enjambment; like a lip-syncher lagging, a half-second off the pace.
Chance’s greatest attribute remains his storytelling, even in the harshest of cross-sections. A good example of this occurs two songs later when Ari Lennox alters her voice mechanics to reflect a total nostalgic flashback. Even Chance The Rapper adopts the memorable Fu-Schnickens flow on “I Got You (Always and Forever)” to connote easy skanking in the middle 90s. Again, verisimilitude is the name of the game, and Ari Lennox is equal to him every step of the way. Speaking of verisimilitude, “Ballin Flossin” is a little off-brand, but that’s OK. Hip-house is due for a renaissance (s/o to Channel Tres in Los Angeles). Does your half-sister dance to Shawn Mendes with the lights dimmed? She does now!
There’s a sense Chance The Rapper formulated his debut in the mold of a consummate family man. The question is: will hip-hop’s revolutionary cycle revert course and become a PG13 affair? Or will Chance The Rapper simply create a field of vision for himself and no one else? If the answer to hip-hop’s less-than forsaken future is a model of inclusivity, Chance The Rapper is the strongest candidate for a spokesperson. “I Got You (Always and Forever)” is unmistakably a marital sendoff, and the grooviest one on The Big Day at that – whereas songs like “Let’s Go On The Run” make similar inferences to committed love, with far more emotional contrivance.
You can’t fault Chance for his subservient approach. “The whole album has been inspired by the day that I got married and how I was dancing that day,” he told Zane Lowe leading to its release. Try controlling your tear ducts after hearing that. To his credit, The Big Day is cohesive from one song to the next. The skits run their course seamlessly; John Witherspoon’s intercession is a reminder that Chance The Rapper, in all his perceived incorruptibility, has a little Huey and Riley Freeman in him after all.
Chance The Rapper’s debut is at times, a long and fruitless journey. On the other hand, The Big Day is technically a good album by contemporary standards. Its feature list is plucked from the ripest of trees. Chance finds numerous ways to conjure up the past: by giving the millennials a 200 level course on SWV – by invoking flows that were thought to be extinct. The Big Day doesn’t feel the least bit like a debut record, and for all intents and purposes IT really isn’t, but have mercy on Chance’s soul; there’s little he can’t do at a proficient level. So, before you call the coast guard to the rescue, ask yourself: is Chance The Rapper your kind of Padrino? If so, you’ll find The Big Day immeasurably fun.