We've heard much buzz about Chance The Rapper in recent weeks, but it wasn't about his music. A clip of the Chicago star enjoying celebrations made the rounds on social media, thrusting his marriage into the spotlight once again. As conversations about the viral moment take over timelines, a less controversial highlight of the rapper's career is also being revisited: Acid Rap. April 30 marked ten years since Chance's sophomore mixtape arrived, and it marked a career-defining moment for the then-budding emcee.
For many, Acid Rap is more than a classic. Although Chance would later speak about those trying times in his life during the album's creation and release, it would still be a pivotal moment in his climbing up the ranks of Hip Hop. Chance The Rapper made Acid Rap seem effortless—the fusion of Acid Jazz, Rap, Soul, and those Gospel additions made for a unique sound. Further, the moments of introspection not only brought depth to the project, but to the relationship Chance was developing with his growing fanbase.
At the time of Acid Rap's release, the generations of Hip Hop were shifting. With the 2010s came the rise of SoundCloud rappers and artists making a way when there previously seemed to be none. Chicago had long established itself in the culture with artists Common and Twista, but as the tides changes, so did Hip Hop's sound. Acid Rap tackled self-discovery, resonating with listeners who were looking beyond the era of animosity or beefs.
Take "Cocoa Butter Kisses," which features fellow hometown heroes Vic Mensa and Twista. The song is a nostalgic look back at one's childhood, with Chance rapping about his love for life's simple pleasures. Another standout is "Juice," which features a sample of Donny Hathaway's cover of John Lennon's "English Guy." The song, which gives a nod to Tupac Shakur, is an anthem of sorts, with Chance spitting bars about his success and the obstacles he's had to overcome. "Acid Rain" spoke of anxiety, as Chance addressed struggles with jealousy, fame, and the pressures that come with it.
"Paranoia" Touched Many
The often somber elements, including the gripping reality of gun violence in Chicago, are palpable. The track "Paranoia" has reverberated throughout the culture, as there was almost a desperation between the lines. Chance raps in the second verse: "They murking kids, they murder kids here / Why you think they don't talk about it? They deserted us here / Where the f*ck is Matt Lauer at? / Somebody get Katie Couric in here / Probably scared of all the refugees / Look like we had a f*ckin' hurricane here / They'll be shooting whether it's dark or not / I mean, the days is pretty dark a lot / Down here, it's easier to find a gun / Than it is to find a f*cking parking spot / No love for the opposition, specifically a cop position / 'Cause they've never been in our position / Getting violations from the nation, correlating, you dry snitchin'."
The Rapper Reflects
"The way that I was living at that time. I had everything in excess," Chance The Rapper recently told Complex. "Right after I dropped the project, I went on a few tours where I really didn't make any money. Then I went on my first tour, my headlining tour, where I made some money. I went and rented a crib. This is my first time living outside of my parents' house in another city and having money and doing a lot of drugs. A lot, a lot, a lot of drugs." He previously admitted to using LSD.
The experience may have helped him craft a stellar record, but Chance admitted that then, he was a "lesser person" than today. "If I hadn't had my spirit tugged on—literally—and a calling to become a better version of myself, then I would have died for sure," he said. "Then I would just be the representative of acid, and I'm so much more."
Critical & Cultural Acclaim
The critical acclaimed for Acid Rap would pour in. Although it debuted at No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, its impact would go far beyond accolades. Several Windy City natives would be included in the project, like BJ the Chicago Kid, Noname, Saba, Peter Cottontale, and, of course, Kanye West. Other features included, but are certainly not limited to, Childish Gambino, Action Bronson, and Top Dawg Entertainment icon, Ab-Soul.
Acid Rap became a launching pad for many aspiring artists who were looking to edge away from the expected sounds of Hip Hop. Chance helped influence a new era of experimentation—all while using sonic therapy to talk out the traumas that come with youth. We revisit the record and reflect on its impact, marveling at what has changed within the last decade...and what has seemingly remained the same.