Wednesday, July 31 2019


Dear Journal,

So Chance the Rapper released a new album last Friday. While we were packing from Hayward, I was refreshing my phone in hopes I'd have enough time to download it for the car. I saw the new twitter post minutes before we started up the car. We tried listening to it on Spotify and got a few tracks in, but the free tier only lets you shuffle albums. We managed to listen to the first track on YouTube. I get psyched hearing and we back at the beginning of each of his albums, but the rest of it just sounded like a terrible Bill Wurtz song.

I didn't have time to listen to more of the album over the weekend until Sunday. Rodney was eating breakfast, and Renee and Tom were driving to town to pick up some stuff for the boat. I clicked through several more songs. There were some pretty moments sprinkled throughout, but I started to wonder if it was a bad album.

After we got home, catching up on chores gave me an opportunity to finally dig in. I was eager to find at least one track to put on my end of the year hip-hop mix tape, but I honestly couldn't find any. My excitement for a new Chance album turned into morbid curiosity as to how this mess of a project would be received. The reddit comments and tweets were split - some insisting the album was really bad, and other insisting that Coloring Book got the same flack when it first came out. Some reviews trickled in over the weekend, but last night my favorite music critic Anthony Fantano finally released his review. In short, he didn't like it either. He really didn't like it.

That got me thinking about how I found Chance. I was late in the game - the first single I heard that really stuck with me was Angels. I loved how bright and cocky the rapping was, and his whole sound just oozed with this attractive Chicago pride. I've only been living in Madison for about four years, and I still feel a bit like an outsider. It felt good to connect with my home city (and don't even start with that whole the suburbs don't count spiel, the way I see it if you can ride the train into the city, you live in the city).

I worked backwards into Chance's discography from there. The track angels was a single that would likely be on his next album, but I still had plenty to explore. Acid Rap became my new regular listen on the hour long bus ride from Middleton to the east side. I had barely gotten time to listen to his first album 10 Day before Coloring Book was released. It was very different from his last projects. He had just had a kid, and some real sentimentality started to permeate. I think that may have been the first time I heard the term dad rap, and perfect timing because I had just become a Dad a few weeks earlier. Actually, I played the song Grown Ass Kids in the delivery room just moments after Rodney was born, which was a leaked track that never made it onto coloring book because of licensing issues. Marissa and I really liked the song, because we felt wildly unprepared to have a kid. We were still figuring out how to pay bills and keep our house from falling apart, and we still just felt like kids.

My time's almost up this morning, but in short, I loved coloring book. Which is why The Big Day was such a shock. It was such a change in velocity for Chance. It's been three years since his last project (Rodney's age is a good way to measure when Coloring Book came out, isn't it), and this direction is absolutely baffling.

I think I have more to say about Chance, but we'll have to save it for another day. If you haven't had a chance to listen to it, check it out and join the conversation. Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.