'The Big Day' : Chance The Rapper - Album Review

On his debut studio album, Chicago's love child graces fans with a project that feels all over the place - for better or worse. At 22-tracks, The Big Day is as experimental as it is generic, and as memorable as it is forgettable, making for a relatively satisfying yet non-cohesive collection of records chronicling family, faith and fun.


6.9/10

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AND WE BACK.


It's been a long, long time coming for Chance Bennett.


Chicago's resident love child exploded onto the (at the time) buzzing SoundCloud scene with two of the most memorable mixtapes inside the rap genre, catching eyes and ears by the millions with his memorable punchlines and cool, effortless flow patterns.


A couple years after 10 Day and Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper completed his debut trilogy with Coloring Book, a mixtape that transcended every element of the "Chicago" sound into one long, holy project - utilizing gospel influences, vintage samples and various horns to help embody a tape made for the city he calls home.


After the release of Coloring Book, Chance took somewhat of a hiatus from music; and in this three year period, he married his high school sweetheart, demanded social/political change for Chicago, and stayed highly active on Twitter.


Finally, this past Friday, we were graced with The Big Day, Chance's long-awaited, unfathomably hyped debut album: a 22-track project that is difficult to summarize for a few reasons.


I still haven't figured out if this is a good thing. Let me explain:


The Big Day is easily Chance's least cohesive project to date. Generally, when I sense this trend from an artist of his caliber upon first listen, I can rightfully assume that since it's his big "debut album", it's more than likely a culmination of sounds and styles from his previous three mixtapes. When an album takes this shape (see The Life of Pablo), the diverse and loosely connected sounds are strung together by a centralized theme, serving as a concept album with a "playlist-like" tone. On The Big Day, I just can't seem to find any sort of concept or narrative at play - this, coupled with the hard-to-follow nature of the album's sound makes for a rather scattered, confusing listen.


In all honesty, The Big Day feels makes it seem like, in the past 3 years, Chance recorded a whole lot of music - and when it was time to put together an album, he chose his 22-favorite tracks and threw them into place with no real rhyme or reason.


Take for example "Hot Shower": don't get me wrong, this track is a banger (MadeInTYO's verse is really, really bad, but Chance and DaBaby are heavyweights on this cut), but it feels so out of order in the grand scheme of things, it feels as though it should've been nothing more than a single.


The Big Day is unique to Chance's discography in that it has incredibly high-highs, followed by brutally low-lows. Songs like "The Big Day", "Do You Remember", "Town On The Hill" and "Sun Come Down" are beautiful testaments to the artistic power Chance has. Songs like "Handsome" and "Roo" feel forced and unnecessary, with no aim other than to get another artist onto his big first album.


"Town On The Hill" is Chance at his peak. It's surface-level impact is quite simple in nature, but behind the curtain is a record that uses a reference to bible scripture as the motor in a song dedicated to his wife and daughter.


"The Big Day" is by no means a lyrical masterpiece (just listen), but as far as sonics go, it's an incredible culmination of two artists with uniquely profound musical tendencies: Chance and Justin Vernon.


Chance hits a musical high-note in his experimentation on The Big Day in a couple cases, as he wanders into new territory and progresses - a risk I can thoroughly appreciate from an artist that really has carved out a lane or two for himself in the rap game.


All in all, I think what caused a lack of enthusiasm for many listeners comes down to one or two things:


1) the 3-year snowball of hype


2) the somewhat contradictory overexposure/generic nature of the album


Listen, I know I have absolutely no place criticizing Chance for taking three years to release The Big Day. I get it. Chance prioritized the things that meant the most in life to him: his family and his city, something any sane human would do if/when given the chance.


This unnaturally long period between Coloring Book and his debut album certainly did not help, however. Out-of-music priorities will never, ever be factored into the quality of an album as far as i'm concerned, but the Doritos commercials, cheesy singles and numerous advertisements in that time period felt a little hypocritical, making listeners/fans like myself nervous for the album-to-be.


Take for example this excerpt from Slate's Jack Hamilton, who said:


"His outward anti-corporate posture has been undercut by armfuls of endorsement deals, including ubiquitous television spots for the likes of Nike, Doritos, and Kit Kat."


Again, I cannot fault Chance for these business decisions, I just have my opinion is all. In the end, The Big Day really is a satisfying debut album in many ways - don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the outcome of the release (see score above).


I just don't know if it feels like Chance, and I'm not sure if i will for a long time.


The Big Day feels like a commercial release for many reasons, which is the farthest possible thing I'd expect from an artist that has built a dedicated empire off of the beautiful concept that is musical independence.


Above all else, The Big Day is a much-needed release from an artist whose influence on his listeners stretches far beyond music, so in a way, I can't be mad at it.


Chance did his thing.


Did it pay off? I'll let you decide.



-Carter Ferryman-


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