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Chancellor Jonathan Bennett, known to many as Chance The Rapper, was a household name years before even dropping an official debut album! Now the fitted cap wearing MC has finally put his loyal fans minds at ease with the release of 2019’s The Big Day. The proud Chi-town rapper who was a local star in his hometown, rose to fame after he released the first of three mixtapes: Acid Rap, 10 Day, Coloring Book. He began forming a devout following due to his playful flows, savvy one-liners, and hefty comparisons in prowess to fellow Southsider turned hip-hop star Kanye West. Now four years and a handful of clout later, the budding social activist, film producer, and brand new father of one, still has more of his story to tell. He recently sat down with Beat 1’s Zane Lowe to explain the significance behind the long awaited project and how it has served as a basis in his life at the moment. “The whole album has been inspired by the day I got married and how I was dancing that day, everything in it is all the different styles of music that make me want to dance and remind me of that day.”
On cue, the album starts out with the uplifting “All Day Long” setting the tone as a testament to his overall success on all levels. Greeted by the soulful and contagious sounds of talented and longtime friend John Legend, the inspiring track serves as a reminder of what made the popular MC so likable in the first place. Rap Queen Nicki Minaj and newcomer Lil Dirk pop up on the smooth and nicely produced “Slide Around”. Though Chance holds his own on the catchy standout, it must be noted that Nicki delivers perhaps the best feature verse on the LP. Her flow on the verse can be reminiscent of Young Money Days or the likes of her ferocious takedown verse on Kanye’s 2010 hit “Monster”.
“Eternal” is another treat, generating old Kanye vibes as Chance’s laid back verses mix in perfectly with the flowy background vocals. The reflective “We Go High” is also a warm addition, and shows why Chance is at his best on these types of tracks shedding truth and depth in a way that is more thought provoking and earnest, than self-loathing. He keeps tempo on the introspective “Do You Remember” featuring yet another stellar feature on the hook from fellow collaborators Death Cab For Cutie. Then elsewhere, he and new “hot girl” of the summer, Megan Thee Stallion, show off their multifaceted flows confidently over a set of West coast snares and 808’s on the swaggering “Handsome”. As Chance boasts: “Baby, I look good, I look handsome. // Somebody gon’ take me for ransom. // Everybody ’round me was dancin’, and nobody ’round me could have none.”
Following suit, true rap fans will love the solid hip-hop sounds of “Big Fish”. Joined by trap star rapper Gucci Mane, they take turns trading bars back and forth about power and status. The pace switches gears, on “I Got You” which has a sweet 2000’s feel. Chance makes sure his new wife knows how much he values her: “It’s been a minute, I’ve been messin’ with ya. // I could never switch up. // Turn my life around, I’m tryna go to Heaven with ya.” The songs “The Big Day” and “Found A Good One” are also odes to his newfound “I’ve grown into a family man” rhetoric. Clearly the project’s thesis is about the growth and maturity into manhood (we get it). But at times it feels more forced than not. He berates the subject matter as if he’s making it define him rather than just allowing it to assist.
With that being said, the Chicago prodigy’s debut does have some nice material and universal anthems like we’ve come accustom to receiving from the charismatic rhymer. However, unlike some of his previous works that naturally came across a bit more flavored and high-spirited, this one is more isolated and overcompensated with too much of the same subject matter. As a result, the 22-track disc would have faired just fine at around 15 good songs.
The Big Day is simply more typical Chance The Rapper type of flavor but with the exception of a marriage and a new kid. Unfortunately, that storyline gradually becomes obsessive overkill throughout. While we must applaud the progression and genuine intent, all the noisy self-indulgence is simply not necessary. The truth of the matter is that no matter where Chance is personally in life, as great as this guy is at making music, the people will love him regardless.
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