Review | Chance The Rapper - The Big Day
Despite 8 years as an active recording artist, Chance The Rapper’s debut album The Big Day is a disappointing project that doesn’t lack exuberance, but fails to accurately showcase the Chicago artist’s talent.
Since Colouring Book (2016), Chance The Rapper has kept himself busy with his activism efforts in Chicago, his recent work on The Lion King, the release of several singles and the distribution of his earlier mixtapes 10 Day and Acid Rap, to streaming services. Among all this, Chancellor Bennett married the mother of his daughter in March of this year, driving the narrative for Chance’s first studio album. Entering into the album, the expectations were set high. Chance was projected to be one of the more promising and refreshing new acts in hip-hop, and his close work with Kanye West seemed to assure that listeners would see their work see the light of day in this climactic debut. Unfortunately, the albums feature list is Ye-less, and while Chance finds himself often outshone by his guest artists, the long list of features is initially underwhelming especially in comparison to the all-star cast of Colouring Book.
The exhausting 22-track The Big Day starts energetically with “All Day Long” featuring John Legend, “Do You Remember” featuring Death Cab for Cutie and “Eternal” featuring Smino. These three tracks are easily the best on the project, with an overall light, summer-y and bouncy feel. Chance clearly shares our early excitement with the celebratory “All Day Long”, starting with the familiar “and we back” line that has been a staple since Acid Rap’s “Good Ass Intro”. John Legend provides vocals for the hook and bridge of the song, with lines like, “We can't be out here pleasing everybody,” ironically becoming somewhat of an excuse to the so far negative reception of The Big Day. “Do You Remember” is a slower and more nostalgic cut that like “All Day Long” is largely carried by the featured artist's melodies. Nevertheless, “Do You Remember” is reflective of Bennett’s growth and newly-found optimism, as Chance fans will remember his previous outlook on Summer in Chicago through songs like “Paranoia” and “Summer Friends”. Chance teams up with Smino on “Eternal” to deliver a smooth and soulful song full of proud boasts of their relationships. This is one of the only times on the album where Chance and his featured artist seem to be evenly matched and well-suited for the song.
Sadly, it goes dramatically downhill with the irritatingly cringeworthy and forgettable track, “Hot Shower”, that is similar to his earlier single “GRoCERIES”, only minus the novelty. Not even DaBaby’s guest feature can be a saving grace in this clear attempt for virality on TikTok. Whether the song will gain attention on TikTok or not, “Hot Shower” has no place within the narrative and overall aesthetic of the album, or even his discography. Jumping back to a sentimental feel, “We Go High” includes some clever lines but nothing that tops what we’ve seen before. For someone as talented as Chance with his pen game, The Big Day’s writing is criminally bland and near awful. Again switching sounds, “I Got You” is an R&B throwback that Chance’s flow and voice fails to compliment the instrumental and Ari Lennox vocals.
“Roo” is enjoyable, and it’s great to see Chance and his brother Taylor Bennett collaborate again, as Taylor seems to motivate Chance, but it would’ve been nicer to hear CocoRosie have more than one line. If only Chance could’ve been motivated by the decent verses of Gucci Mane on “Big Fish” or Megan Thee Stallion on “Handsome”, perhaps they could’ve been more entertaining. The two cuts are not necessarily bad songs, but after “The Big Day” and “Let’s Go On A Run”, it’s hard to continue listening. Chance’s vocals are obnoxious and the continuous genre blending gives the album a complete lack of identity. For the rest of the album, there are admittedly some good tracks like “Five Year Plan” and even “Get A Bag”, but these are challenged by “Town On The Hill”, "Ballin Fallin" and “Zanies and Fools”. “Sun Come Down” seems to summarise what Chance was trying to say throughout, but by time we reach this track, everything has already been said. Despite that, it still feels strange to have Nicki Minaj closing the album. Minaj does a respectable job, but for Chance to have such a polarising voice throughout the album, his absence is felt in the closing moments.
While Chance The Rapper may be at his best in his life, with his new marriage and young family, his debut album The Big Day sees him at his worst. Sonically, it's inconsistent and tries to do all too much at once, before doing anything successfully first. It’s a mess of 22 tracks that flips the motto of quality over quantity on its head. The glimpses of hope are few and far between, with the highlights being outshone by the album's forced genre blending and repetitive themes. If Chance The Rapper had signed to GOOD Music back in 2016, perhaps the label’s 2018 albums could have included a 7-track The Big Day that would’ve lived up to his discography.
Best song: Do You Remember, Eternal
Worst song: Hot Shower, The Big Day, Let's Go On A Run