ACL Review: Chance the Rapper

A Chicago MC prodigy to lead us all

The following was a random conversation overheard just after commencement of Chance the Rapper’s dominant performance at the Miller Lite stage on Sunday, which concerned one of those “I’ll pull out my chair where I want” couples:

“It says he’s called Chance. The Rapper. He’s a rapper.”

“He’s a rapper? He raps? This isn’t like what [child’s name] listens to. Why can’t he listen to this?”

Photo by Gary Miller

That isn’t suggesting the ball-capped Chicago MC comes off placative. Far from it, in fact. However, Chance and his excellent band, the jazz-influenced Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment, manage accessibility without subverting the message or his wondrous technical skill.

From the jump, a bluesy Chance led with his willingness to ask the hard questions on “Everybody’s Something.” Technical skill had fluid, double entendres coming hard and fast on “Pusha Man/Paranoia,” Donnie Trumpet’s airy horn filling all pockets. Lyrics stacked crystal clear sobriety and randomness of hood life: “And I ponder what’s worse, between knowing it’s over and dyin’ first.”

“Here’s a tab of acid for your ear. You’re the plastic, I’m the passion and the magic in the air,” the young prodigy espoused on “Brain Cells.” Bar none, there’s no rapper more capable of bending and pitching his voice for texture and emotion in each articulated word.

“This is your iTunes. This is your show,” Chance proclaimed.

That’s festival success, all right: The near constant (instant) soundtracking of our lives. If only we all could’ve had so much figured out at 22. Perhaps a child shall lead us.

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Chance the Rapper, ACL Fest 2015, Donnie Trumpet

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