Chance the Rapper | The WEDDING DAY
Across three mixtapes preceding Chancelor Bennett AKA Chance the Rapper’s studio debut, a natural maturation, both personal and artistic, occurred. 10 Day proved a largely forgettable lo-fi developing, however anticipated Bennett’s marriage of linguistic eloquence and the drippy vigor of youth. Follow-up Acid Rap made good on that implicit promise: featuring possibly the most sophisticated writing of Chance’s career, the tape weds his recognizable, affected cadences with a newfound furious urgency in both his voice and his flow, while also broadening his thematic palette and softening enough in moments (“Cocoa Butter Kisses,” “Everybody’s Something“) to help expand forecast his artistic evolution. Coloring Book , then, represented Chance fully in his feels and influences: a fusion of gospel-rap and hiphop balladry symbiotically interacts with, and enriches, the tape’s more viscerally pleasurable anthems (“NO ISSUE”) and propulsive, dancey detours (“FOREVER”), while lyrically pivoting from today’s pleasures of teenagedom to a transitional preoccupation with both future-gazing and melancholic reflectiveness.
The WEDDING DAY – Chance’s first release that’s being billed being an “album” – was conceived of, and is informed by, the rapper’s recent nuptials. Chance opts for an excisional approach here: Where in fact the progression across his trio of mixtapes complicate the music’s emotional and psychological terrain, the joyful exuberance of the immediate is nearly exclusively the interest here. That isn’t inherently an issue, and there’s indeed plenty of breezy and dewy-eyed affection to he within Chance’s exaltations. However the act of drilling down on this type of specific human experience demands dedication to depth, in the lack of breadth, and lacking this is actually the introspection and interrogation essential to frame this intentionality.This narrow focus means even potentially thorny ruminations (“ The only path to survive would be to go crazy ”) are mined because of their romantic value at the trouble of any other thing more complex. And spread thin across an expansive 70 minutes, this process results in a few of Chance’s career-worst bars, with increased substantive subject material abruptly abandoned for soppy, cornball proclamations (“ Very smart, and she very fine, and she very kind ”) and nonsensical would-be one-liners (“ Life is short as a midget, but mine’s just a little LeBron ”).
There is absolutely no denying a particular maddening shapelessness to the album’s construction, but nor does it feel sincere to dismiss it being an artless faceplant.
The issue, then, appears to be among saturation – The WEDDING DAY will be a lot. Sonically, there is a lot of shared DNA with Coloring Book , the orchestral production and auto-tuned choral backup vocals again frequently lend a religious tenor to the music. But whereas Chance’s last mixtape sought expressing a life of spiritual complexity by way of a union of theme and sound – on Coloring Book, spiritual regenesis are available equally in God, blunts, and nostalgia, in jazzy horns, twinkling piano, or overtly worshipful choirs – The WEDDING DAY presents a haphazard mixture of gospel, house, funk, ‘90s hip-hop, and synth-pop, without real organization or progression. Even the litany of features on the album feels beholden to a quantity-over-quality dictum, vacillating between inspired and senseless – Randy Newman, underutilized here, nevertheless employs his recognizable warble to create needed character to “5 Year Plan” while, in an excellent bid of selfless artistry, Chance hands off the album’s closing verse (on standout track “Zanies and Fools”) to Nicki Minaj, who promptly delivers her best bars in years. But there are certainly others, like Shawn Mendes’s unnecessary presence on “Ballin Flossin,” or MadeinTYO’s i’m all over this “Hot Shower,” a specific moment of bloat emphasized by DaBaby’s cadence-shifting greatness one verse later, that distract.
That isn’t to state that there aren’t tracks – a lot of them, actually – that impress despite the album’s tonal whiplash, and otherwise general disarray. “Sun DROP” is really a particular highlight, a far more lyrically modulated confessional, favoring sincere expressions on the saccharine platitudes found elsewhere on the album, with a pared-down beat built around strumming guitar, traps, and tambourine, and layered over ethereal wails. “Let’s Continue the Run” is all propulsion, the deep distortion of the verses and chorus complimented by way of a momentary respite of rasped falsetto on the bridge, also it produces a mirroring and pairing with the preceding (and album-best) track, “The WEDDING DAY.” Feeling deeply indebted to co-producer Francis Starlite’s penchant for ‘80s sensibilities (blatantly Genesis-inspired drums dominate), the singer also delivers the album’s most reliable feature here: subverting his usual tonal delicacy and complementing Chance’s raw, whispered crooning, Francis instead surprises having an extended little bit of clipped screaming, giving voice to the rapper’s primal, pre-wedding exorcisms: “ Fuck money, shit, fuck, shit, tell ‘em, burn it…Still wanna, drink it, fuck it, drink it , drink it, fuck it, shoot it, I don’t wanna .” And even, this exclamatory may represent the thoughts of several listeners by the end of The WEDDING DAY . There is absolutely no denying a particular maddening shapelessness to the album’s construction, but nor does it feel sincere to dismiss it being an artless faceplant. There’s plenty of sonic innovation and jaunty swagger to claim that, with curation, there could be a wholly successful album within its current form, it’s way too much, and therefore paradoxically insufficient. The question, then, of whether this exists being an uneven if euphoric interlude in Chance’s output – or if it’s indicative of a far more seismic and permanent shift in vision – feels, up to now, unanswered. Or maybe the easy answer is that his wedding just isn’t as interesting to us since it would be to him.