(July 29, 2019). Everyone in the hip-hoposphere knows that Chance the Rapper released his “first” full-length (non-EP, non-mixtape) studio album last Friday. It’s called The Big Day.
And it could be a very big day for hip-hop’s boy wonder who will likely see his name atop the Billboard 200 album chart for the first time in his career if his new set sees the big numbers that the industry anticipates.
We’ve now had a whole weekend-plus to digest and dissect the 22-track, 1 hour 17-minute album being billed as his début (even though he’s had some dope “mixtapes” that qualify as albums). The Big Day is so far the year’s most anticipated hip-hop release, and given the weak release schedule of other new albums in recent weeks, a No. 1 placement for Big Day on next week’s main album chart appears inevitable.
In doing so, Chance would secure the 199th album that is primarily hip-hop in nature to top the all-genre Billboard 200, including 50 in just the last four years (since August 2015) – the most in any four-year span since rap albums have been charting.
As for The Big Day itself, here’s a djrobblog first-listen reaction to the album, including what the blog considers the dopest of the 19 songs (the other three tracks are skits), plus the mediocre tunes and the throwaways.
These ten tracks are lit???:
“All Day Long” – In an era of overtly depressing songs in hip-hop and other popular genres, the upbeat “All Day Long” is a breath of fresh air – a rapid-firing banger to kick off the album. Chance turns in some strong bars here, too. John Legend’s hook is pure throwback pop/soul.
“Do You Remember?” – Chance gives a nod here to his hometown (Chitown) without pouring on too much sugar. The Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie) feature is a nice touch for this smooth summer groove.
“Eternal” – Side pieces may want to take note when listening to this one, or simply close their ears. The reality for them, as delivered by Chance and featured rapper Smino: they can’t compete with eternal love. And if they’re not convinced how precariously optional they are, they will be after hearing Chance lay it down for them on this brutal track.
“Roo” – Make no mistake, Chance Bennett is the star of this album. But his younger brother Taylor is the star of this track. Don’t believe it? Just give a listen to his hot-as-fire verse at the end of this burner.
“Let’s Go on the Run” – This one should keep listeners in a good mood and elicit repeat listens. In fact, I put it on repeat twice before writing this. Hip-hop needs to bring upbeat fun back, and Chance is doing his part on this track and on the album as a whole. Nice vocal touch by returning collaborator Knox Fortune, the talented singer who contributed to Grammy-winning Coloring Book track “All Night” in 2016.
“The Big Day” – The album’s title track is definitely worthy of its status. In fact, the hook draws you in before the music changes at the 1:26 mark and takes you somewhere you never expected before bringing you back to the main hook at 1:55. It then inexplicably jumps off the rails at about the 2:15 mark with a tirade of f-bombs and screams done obviously for dramatic effect. But it works. The song eventually returns to what it does best with the main hook and a finish that invokes The Holy Spirit as Chance is known to do so often.
“Big Fish” – Clever wordplay elevates this otherwise bland track to lit status. But that chorus, though! Sing it with me: “I was on the line…” (you’ll know what I mean when you hear it).
“5 Year Plan” – I’m a big fan of unexpected chord changes, and the album’s most introspective track has that and more. Chance takes time out to wax eloquently about his future, because even though he’s only 26, it’s never to early to start planning it – another reason this track wins.
“Sun Come Down” – An understated track that allows Chance to be the focal point, especially during the powerful second verse when he essentially mocks those two-faced, fairweather friends who are only there for the good times but otherwise show their hater status on social media.
“Zanies and Fools” – This is Chance’s masterpiece and arguably the best song on the album. In fact, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it is the best track on this album. A sentimental, slow beginning has you believing it’s another ballad, until at the 0:57 mark where the beat kicks in and the tempo picks up, and the rappers Chance and later Nikki (in an encore album appearance) do their thing. Nicki provides a strong feature here. Play this on repeat and turn it up loud!
These seven tracks are lukewarm ?:
“Hot Shower” – On this track, Chance’s chorus rap is reminiscent of the late Eazy E, while featured artist DaBaby channels Future on his lone verse at the end. This one is just beats (no melody) and a rap cadence that is pure ‘80s throwback. Unfortunately, the water just doesn’t get that hot in this shower.
“We Go High” – Three things work for this one: the shuffling beat throughout, the melody, and the metaphorical use of Michelle Obama’s signature phrase from the 2016 presidential campaign as Chance first details the ups and downs of his relationship with his now wife and ultimately offers his praises to God.
“Handsome” – Chance hooks up with Megan Thee Stallion on this track, which is a natural follow-on to “Let’s Go On The Run,” beat-wise. But it’s a slight let down from that stellar track. Megan, however, gets the award for the best lines here.
“Ballin Flossin” – Shawn Mendes is quickly becoming this year’s it-guy. He’s currently riding two top-ten hits of his own and “Ballin” will likely add to his (and Chance’s) chart tally when the numbers are crunched later this week. While you’ll no doubt be bouncing to this one after a few listens, it doesn’t jump off for me quite yet.
“Get A Bag” – On this track, the “bag” Chance (and featured artist Calboy) rap about is not the kind you think. It’s metaphorical for whatever your “bag” in life may be. I like the underlying looped sample that plays throughout (“Tellin’ you now, now you’re my only one”), but the track may wear fast upon repeated listens.
“Slide Around” – Nicki Minaj appears twice on The Big Day, first on this track. She meshes well with Chance during her verse, but by the time the other featured artist Lil Durk appears later, you’re wondering why the song hadn’t already ended. Four choruses and three verses are one each too many in this case.
“Town on the Hill” – This is the album’s principle ballad, and Chance does an admirable job singing – and not rapping – it. As he does so unapologetically on other tracks, the singer gives praise to God.
And these two tracks just flame out:
“I Got You (Always and Forever)” – This track is a largely disjointed effort, especially lyrically. And considering the multitude of featured artists on it, including a revamped En Vogue at the end, that outcome isn’t surprising.
“Found A Good One (Single No More)” – In case you didn’t know, Chance the Rapper married his girlfriend Kirsten Corley in March, and he ain’t single no more. Let me repeat – as the song does fifty-eleven times – he ain’t single no more.
So what do y’all think? Which tracks stood out to you the most, and which ones were duds?
Wherever you stand on the individual tracks, I think many will agree that The Big Day as a whole is fire, and that Chance the Rapper has a winner on his hands.
So let djrobblog go out on a limb and be among the first to congratulate the native Chicagoan on his first No. 1 album!
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
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