Now almost three years removed from his breakthrough mixtape, Acid Rap, Chicago’s Chance the Rapper is set to drop his third mixtape. Acid Rap put Chance on top of the underground hip-hop universe, and he has been quite active riding this wave of popularity despite not putting out a proper follow-up – on top of a slew of guest verses, Chance was heavily involved in Donnie Trumpets’ Surf and released a mini-mixtape of sorts with Lil B (from the pack, of course).
If Acid Rap elevated Chance to new underground heights, it appears as if he’s preparing for the mainstream spotlight with this third mixtape. He dropped the project’s first single, “Angels,” via a live performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and it was announced Tuesday that he’d be performing on an upcoming episode of SNL. All eyes are on Chano and what he drops next, so here’s what we’d like to see him do on his third mixtape.
Ease Up On The Trumpets
Chance gave us plenty of feel-good, Corona-on-the-beach tunes with Surf, a free collaboration project he created with Donnie Trumpet earlier this year. After doubling down on that sound with “Angels,” Chance is in danger of sounding redundant and formulaic.
There is nothing wrong with light jazz and positive vibes in rap — if anything, the genre could use more of it — but “Angels” could have easily been a Surf leftover, a cousin to the hit “Sunday Candy” (Donnie Trumpet even has a songwriting credit on the track).
Part of what made Acid Rap such a smashing success was its experimentation with unique sounds. If Chance recycles the same sound with the same producers over and over, he will be getting away from a big part of what made him such an appealing artist in the first place.
Sample, Sample, And Sample Again
Releasing free music and turning down multi-million dollar label deals on a regular basis can’t be easy, but making music without the strings of corporate and copyright rules has unmatched creative benefits. Chance has full control over who he collaborates with and, more importantly, the music he can sample.
Sampling in hip-hop is a largely underused tool because of the fees involved — fees that Chance is clear of so long as he continues to make free, independent music. Few, if any, rappers have been able to gain as much popularity as Chance without compromising their creative freedom.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Political
Chance is only 22, but he carries himself with as much maturity and self-awareness as anyone in the industry. Last year, he took to social media to speak out against the violence in his hometown city and his tour is called the “Family Matters” tour, for crying out loud — the man has his head on straight.
Chance may be making mixtapes, but he is no longer “just” a mixtape rapper. His fanbase will hinge on his every word, especially given where he comes from. 2015 has been an socially tumultuous time to be alive, and fans will want to know his take on current events.
This does not mean Chance needs to turn his mixtape into a debate speech, but he has no reason to steer clear of these heavy topics and ruffle some feathers.
I’d never thought I would hope a rapper gets a little more boastful in their songs, but if there is anyone who deserves to do a bit more bragging in their bars, it’s Chance.
Chance’s relative humility amidst his meteoric rise over the last two years is a part of his appeal, but he has earned the right to brag about what he has accomplished in such a short amount of time without a big-money label backing him. Even if it is just one track, let’s see Chance open up about his status in hip-hop. After all, competition is a part of the genre; if he regularly wants to be considered as one of the top rappers in the game, he needs to let everyone know he deserves to be on the ballot.