The first time I heard Chance The Rapper was on Justin Bieber's 2013 track Confident. Don't judge me! "Tattoos, piercings and she just learned to twerk!"
I remember thinking: who is this raspy-voiced artist with a self-defined stage name? But I loved it.
His second mixtape Acid Rap dropped earlier that year (his first was 10 Day released in 2012). When his third, Coloring Book, released in 2016 his status as an A-list mainstream rap star was established. His efforts further paved the path for the indie artists that would come after him as Chance managed to create several works of art with features from all kinds of artists with no label support.
All of these projects were fantastic. They were creative and original and everything Chance is. Although he's appeared on a few features since his last mixtape, it is about time for some new music.
Using his Instagram, over the last few weeks he's posted a series of pictures of paintings—each an artwork for six different songs. Could this be a hint that we will get a new Chance project soon? Or maybe this is the project?
I Might Need Security features a sample from a Jamie Foxx's stand up of the same title. I recommend you watch that clip, it will give you a whole new appreciation for this song.
"And Rahm, you done, I'm expectin' resignation /
An open investigation on all of these paid vacations for murderers"
Chance gets political on the song, calling out his disapproval of the actions of Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel. The song in general is, as the sample sounds throughout the whole song, a "fuck you" to anyone who is a hater, racist, enemy, bigot, etc.
"Speaking of racist, fuck your micro-aggressions /
I'll make you fix your words like a typo suggestion"
I like this line because it calls out something people of color deal with all of the time. A microaggression can come off as a type of racism that is sometimes subtle or indirect, but still can be as hurtful or uncomfortable. For me, when an unsettling exchange happens between me and a person who is not Black, I often wonder are they acting this way or saying this thing because of my skin color?
"They think they Heath Ledger scary, they just Jack Nichols/
I'm a sign to my city like the Bat-Signal"
Chance is great at rapping in a stream-of-consciousness style with lyrics that are often packed with information and references. Here he compares himself to Batman, a hero for his city, and compares his enemies to two actors who have both played Batman’s enemy The Joker in two different Batman movies. Heath Ledger (rest in peace!) is said to have delivered a scarier performance as The Joker, while Jack Nicholson delivered a performance that was more comical. Chance is saying that while his enemies think they are being intimidating, they are in fact not at all. Genius!
Work Out is a jam that begins with a sultry base intro. One common thing that you can trace in these new songs are Chance's not-so-subtle shout outs to his fiancée.
"Keep it all side-eyes and side-hugs with me /
I know that my girl's trust is a luxury
I don't want my next album sounding all Usher-y"
The first few lines are obviously directed to his exes and past flings. He's pretty much saying back off; my girl has my focus now. But he ultimately wishes them the best.
"For every single ex, I want the best/
I really wish you nothing but success/
I know it's gonna work out"
In My Own Thing, the relationship shout-outs are even more apparent.
"Please don't hit me in my DM /
Promise that my BM gonna slide when she see 'em /
I know she gonna see 'em 'cause I'm defa finna show her"
A part of me admires a man who is not afraid to publicly and happily declare his relationship status. But when I hear so many “I’m taken” shout outs in a song, whether it’s a female or male artist, I have to admit there is another part of me that is thinking, dang can your leash get any shorter? Kidding, Chance, I love your work and wish the best for your beautiful family.
"Please leave me the fuck alone, new fiancée, that's my cologne"
Chance is happy and wants all the haters to kick rocks.
So Chance, is this a teaser for a larger project? We will see. For now, thankfully we can jam to these six singles.
Words by Destanie Martin-Johnson // @destaniemj