It’s been pretty hard to avoid the recent resurgence of the Chicago hip-hop scene. This was more evident than ever when I headed down to SXSW a month ago. I had the pleasure of linking up with my Ruby Hornet family and helped them cover their Digital Freshness showcase they hosted with MTV2. In a set list that included rappers like The Cool Kids and Raekwon, the one artist that stood above all the rest was Chance The Rapper. As soon as he took the stage Chance called out the crowd for talking and not paying attention to the stage. He screamed “Ahhhhhh. Shut the fuck up! I’m Chance The Rapper! I represent Save Money, we about to turn the fuck up.” And just like that, I knew I was about to witness one hell of a show.
A couple weeks after his SXSW trip, Chance drop the much anticipated project 10 Day, a project inspired by his ten day suspension from high school. The most surprising part of the release is that 10 Day had been out for a while in physical form. He had handed them out and sold them to kids from his high school months earlier. The fact that it never leaked speaks volumes about his fan base. I still don’t know how 10 Day didn’t make its way to Mediafire Records. Days leading up to the release, I had already murdered his promo EP, 5 Day, in an attempt to hold me over. I had such high expectations for 10 Day I thought it would never live up to my own self imposed hype. I was wrong (for the most part).
Chance starts 10 Day with “14,400 Minutes” (for you mathematically impaired 14, 400 is how many minutes are in ten days). Why did he get suspended you ask?
I got suspended, oooh you got suspended
for chiefing a hundred blunts
fourteen four hundred minutes
Pretty straightforward huh? This introductory track conveys Chance’s complete acceptance of his time off from school. He almost seems grateful. He’s also very self aware.
Oooh you got suspended, Oooh you not gone finish
Damn they gone resent it, oh you representing a class of bad kids
fourteen four hundred minutes
“14,400 Minutes” also introduces us to one of Chance’s most unique traits: his voice inflection. Besides his lyrical content, Chance’s voice is the first thing that grabs you. While it may be a turn off for some, I think it’s his most musically attractive characteristic. It was a bit off-putting at first, but it really grew on me. For some reason it makes Chance seem more “real”. He’s not trying to duplicate anyone’s style. It’s pretty evident he has his own.
One of my favorite tracks off of 10 Day is “Nostalgia”. The subject matter is pretty self explanatory (just read the title). The one thing I’ve noticed about Chance is that he is, subtly, a very good story teller. You don’t even realize its happening until halfway through the song. It’s great to see an artist who’s able to go from party songs like “Fuck You Tahm Bout” to sentimental tracks like this one. In “Nostalgia”, Chance takes us back to the days of 7up and Gameboys.
Niggas that’s tough now used to get little in the dark
It’s all cool now we’re all little kids at heart
“accident prone” Chance, Y’all remember ’bout
The time I cracked my head open at Auntie Linda’s house
From diapers to to outfits to castles to elmos
From Santa’s to Grandma’s to Gameboys and cellphones
Rocked ya world, 4th grade talent show
Jada and Justin’s birthday magic show
Remember in high school when you sat in class just staring out the window? Well for some, that’s a summer time occurrence too. On “Windows” Chance, Alex Wiley and Akenya Seymour paint us a picture.
This is for every math class that I ever had
so fuck you if I fail and fuck you if I pass
Some of us ain’t seeing summer, some of us will pass
There have been a few iterations of track number five, “Brain Cells”. The first two (one over a Lord Finesse beat and the second one was recorded live) were featured on his 10 Day promo, 5 Day. This track just proves what makes Chance so versatile. He can kick you in the face with “Fuck You Tahm Bout” then make you stop and think with tracks like “Brain Cells”.
I’ve burned too many brain cells down, to be worried about my brain cells now
My first introduction to Chance the Rapper was “22 Offs”. Clocking in at 1:39, “22 Offs” is the perfect length. I think it’s up to 76 plays in my iTunes library. Like many other songs on 10 Day, Chance references his suspension multiple times.
They gave me 10 days off, thats an awful lot
I was off campus but the officer told the office that he saw me from the parking lot
The best production on 10 Day comes from Chuck Inglish on “U Got Me Fucked Up”. When I heard this song live down at SXSW I couldn’t help but violently bob my head. Chance also takes the time to shout out his fellow Chicago brethren. He pays homage to artists like Sir Mikey Rocks, Chuck Inglish, Rockie Fresh, Caleb James and others.
Like “Brain Cells”, there have been a few versions of “Hey Ma”. Chance dropped this version a week before 10 Day dropped. On this new version, the production is more complete and features some vocals from Milwaukee singer Lili K. To all the mothers out there, we appreciate you!
Hey Ma, Hey Ma I know I never did behave a lot
Never got good grades a lot
And turned your hairs to grays a lot
And go in stores and take a lot
And never shopped but saved a lot
So you ain’t gotta shop at Save A Lot
Overall, 10 Day proves to be a great preview of what’s to come from Chance The Rapper. There were a few, albeit small, missteps but not enough to stop the tape from being highly enjoyable.