After what seemed like an endless tease all day, Chance The Rappers much-awaited debut album ‘The Big Day’ dropped. It’s really strange to say ‘Debut’ being that Chance’s mixtapes over such a long period of success have felt like albums in themselves, but The Big Day is arguably his strongest and certainly his largest release to date.
It has an ambition that doesn’t fall flat. Everything it tries to do, it succeeds in doing.
So where do we start? Well, usually I would go through some of my favourite tracks and give a brief overview of the album, but this deserves something a little different.
Chance The Rapper’s music, for me, has always had an essence of poetic excellence to it. That excellence has matured and become fully-fledged and proud of its existence in this 22-track album. It’s this I want to talk about, the individual tracks should just be listened to and you can make your own opinion. The feeling, however, is undeniable.
The album is interspersed with little vinyl-sounding skits that serve a purpose much like those at the end of every song on Lauryn Hill’s ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’. We are given these great and varied tracks that have a strong lyrical significance, and then we’re given a lesson to remind us what the album sets out to do. Just as each song features a long list of big names and, in some places, surprising collaborations, it’s skits are also narrated by some of the greatest actors of our time.
The lyrical significance of the songs that I mentioned comes back to this poetic excellence and this creation of a tangible feeling. Chance, with his collaborators, takes us through every emotion we didn’t realise still existed. It reaches deep into the chest of it’s listeners, presents them with nostalgia, intense love, and even a thin layer of sadness. It then says “this is beautiful, this is normal, this is excellence.”
I use the term poetic because, throughout every incarnation of Chance, I have been fervently sure that he represents the broadness of what poetry is. The traditional Whitman, Plath, Bukowski, Bronté, Shakespeare, Ann-Duffy, Hughes and more were the first I encountered, but through time and evolution, the form has changed. It has changed to also incorporate music. Chance is a musician, he’s a rapper and a singer, but the feeling that his music elicits, the ambitious story-telling nature of everything he puts out is just as astonishing as that of Langston and Walt.
He has always had a manifestation of optimism. I’m not a religious man, but I can’t help but think it comes down to his incredibly strong and admirable faith. Chance has never been silent about his belief in God, and his trust in his religion. Whatever your beliefs and thoughts are, if you have ever been inside a church when gospel music is playing, you cannot deny the utterly endearing effect it has on people. It is so powerful. Faith is powerful, and I say again, I am not religious, but I have a spirituality that feels like faith. Music like in The Big Day, like in his previous releases opens up this internal belief in something. This is Chance’s and the albums greatest quality: to be able to remind people that whatever their religions or lack thereof, there is always something to believe; something to keep fighting for; someone always there to love you.
I guess, it is an album of the utmost optimism and it is difficult to complete all 22 tracks without at least once smiling and remembering something that has kept you on this planet.
Stream it, buy it, download it, do whatever cool kids do these days!